LIVINGSTON - Records from the Livingston Parish permitting office show an erratic and strange track for a commercial construction project, which has caused controversy in the Watson area.
Premier Concrete's worker dormitory began life as a residential permit, as was presented to the parish council through testimony. On November 11, 2018 Cary Goss, owner of Premier Concrete and self-reported contractor for the project, acquired a residential permit for 10,331 square foot residence.
On November 13, it was determined that the building rested in flood zone 'X.'
By January, slab and frame construction were complete and specialized permits were being pulled for work, including a plumbing permit on January 23, 2019. The permit included:
- 4 hot water heaters
- 19 lavatories
- 13 shower basins
- 2 large sinks
- 19 water closets
- 5 washing machines
- 1 A/C drain
- 4 gas conduits
- 6 floor drains
- 1 ice maker
- 1 service sink
- 1 sewer tie-in
The electric permit, also marked residential, did not come until April 11, 2019. However, it was during that time - between the plumbing permit and electric permit - that the Premier Concrete dormitory was discovered by councilman Garry 'Frog' Talbert, who represents the Watson area.
After visual confirmation, via Stephen Muller who owns property adjacent to the concrete company, Talbert brought the issue to Parish President Layton Ricks on roughly March 12, 2019. Together, according to Talbert and confirmed by the parish permitting office, President Ricks, Talbert, and a permitting official visited the site.
According to Talbert, the parish president said that the issue would be resolved and that he - Talbert - was promised the process would 'follow the rules.'
According to parish council attorney Chris Moody, 'generally' the parish administration handles false or mishandled permitting issues.
The aforementioned electric permit was issued on April 11, 2019, and included:
- 40 120v circuits
- 80 240v circuits
- 4 5 horsepower motors
Construction did not stop until May, when the Louisiana State Fire Marshal intervened after it was determined that the project was commercial - some time between the March visit from parish officials and May 24, 2019 when the fire marshal's report was submitted.
According to the report submitted by 'Butch' Brownings office, the original square footage applied for in the residential permit did not much the actual square footage measured by the fire marshal's office - residential R-2 occupancy (16 dorm rooms, 3 apartments) at 9,136 square feet, and storage S-1 occupancy at 3,605 square feet.
The remainder of the report contained 17 deficiencies and issues with construction, including a problem with plans that did not appear to comply with the commercial building energy conservation code.
However, the marshal's report did add that building constructing and licensing may begin (or continue) but the required energy code documentation must be uploaded to the fire marshal's website for evaluation.
On June 16, 2019 the parish issued a commercial permit to Premier Concrete for the dormitory. The commercial plan review routing sheet was submitted to the parish, by Cary Goss, on June 14, 2019. However, that plan was not reviewed until July 17, 2019 and it was noted that an electrical plan, plumbing plan, and mechanical plan were needed for the new commercial site.
As noted during a parish council meeting, in which Cary Goss' attorney appeared, the project also lacked 7-foot commercial privacy fence as well as a drainage impact study - both are required by parish ordinance.
According to Goss' attorney, the owner intends to construct a fence and will submit a drainage impact study to the parish for review. The attorney also said that all construction on the project was halted, as of August 8th, until all proper permits were handled.
The attorney then accused Talbert of subverting the commercial process himself by buying a flooded and gutted home, post-flood, and turning it into an office space. Talbert said that, after a business had a similar issue appear before the parish council, he self-reported and will have to appear before the planning commission as well as the parish council.
The letter to Parish President Layton Ricks has been sent, and 'demanded' that the administration send Premier Concrete back through the full commercial permitting process. Resolutions are non-binding agreements, so the parish president was required to do nothing.
Talbert said that he brought the issue back up in July after the commercial permit was issued in June and construction supposedly continued. According to Talbert, it was his belief that the process had been usurped and that all the rules had not been followed - despite the promise made to him by parish president Layton Ricks.
Talbert was accused of making the issue political after Premier Concrete put up a sign for his opponent in this year's parish council race, Kyle 'Hoot' Parker.
"I brought this up in March, well before I knew I had a challenger," Talbert said, "I learned about that in May.
"I brought it back up when a permit was issued and the rules were not followed."
YOUR TAKE | What do you think about the Premier Concrete commercial permitting process?
The owner of Premier Concrete, via his lawyer, tells the parish council it was a mistake and the administration walked him through correcting the problem. Councilman Garry 'Frog' Talbert thinks the process has been usurped, and that the Livingston Parish administration did it. What do you think residents of Livingston Parish?