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Ponchatoula consolidates 4 boards into one commission

Ponchatoula consolidates 4 boards into one commission

Author: Action News 17/Monday, May 13, 2019/Categories: Front Page, Latest Stories

PONCHATOULA---Ponchatoula leaders on Monday night approved a measure to consolidate four local boards into one super board.

The Ponchatoula City Council voted 3-2 to create the “Ponchatoula Consolidated Board” which will encompass the duties of four other boards, the city’s Zoning Commission, Planning Commission, Historic District Commission, and the Tree (Vegetation) Board.

Under the plan approved Monday night, the four boards will fall under a single umbrella starting July 1. Instead of creating multiple five-member committees, the new consolidated board will operate with seven board members. Existing committee members will have the first right to file letters of intent to serve on the new super board.

Mayor Bob Zabbia said the move to consolidate the four groups under a single umbrella was primarily due to attendance by commissioners at the various meetings. Several groups have been unable to meet due to lack of a quorum, and Zabbia said this super board will be better equipped to handle the business the four smaller commissions were previously assigned.

Councilman Melvin Toomer opposed the language creating the super board, saying that he wanted a guarantee that the new commission would be racially diverse. He asked for a minimum of two black commissioners be appointed to the board. He said that while the new verbiage suggested an “intent to maintain diversity,” he wanted a guarantee the community would be accurately represented with white and black commission members.

Toomer’s motion failed for lack of a second, but when the original motion returned to the floor, Toomer and longtime Councilman Vergil Sandifer opposed the proposal.

In other news, the council unanimously backed an agreement with the Ponchatoula Jaycee Foundation to make improvements to the Jaycee Park playground. Melissa Doster with the Jaycees said the group is working to build the parish’s first playground for families of all abilities to be able to play. The club has raised approximately $120,000 toward the project but they estimate it will cost upwards of $400,000 to make their vision become reality. City attorney Ernie Drake, III, said the council-approved resolution will help both parties in applying for grant funds to make the playground come to fruition.

Council members also announced that the city’s smoking ban in public buildings and restaurants and bars has gone into effect. Approved earlier this year, the ban makes Ponchatoula one of a handful of cities across Louisiana that have elected to become “smoke-free” communities.

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