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Temporary trailer park set up for 2016 flood causing headache for parish officials

LIVINGSTON - A temporary trailer park should have been cleaned up and gone long ago, but it's not. People who live near it along Red Oak Road in Livingston Parish aren't happy.

"It kind of slid under the radar for the entire community," said Harriet Corban.

The location was originally set up for Livingston Parish deputies and their families. It's where they took refuge following the August 2016 flood. Deputies who flooded lived in the mobile homes while they worked toward a permanent housing solution. Corban says it was all supposed to be temporary.

"A temporary home for them to come here," she said. "We had no issues with it."

The issues came about after the deputies moved out and the trailers were auctioned off. Right now, 17 trailers remain and are hooked up to electric, sewer, and water. The trailers were originally purchased for about $34,000 a piece and auctioned off by Henderson Auctions earlier this year. There were 13 mobile homes sold at $29,000, 11 sold at $27,500, and one sold for $30,000. The bulk of them, purchased by a mobile home community developer.

"Then, in turn, the land was sold," said Corban.

Parish Planning Director Sam Digirolamo signed off on the mobile home park in May 2018, calling the location on Red Oak Road an "existing mobile home park." He gave the approval from the Planning Department to move forward with getting permits. Since a number of permits have been issued to organize Five Oak Mobile Home Community in Livingston. An ad to lease or purchase a three bed, two bath mobile home hangs on the fence surrounding the area.

Again, Corban says this was not the original plan.

"It was the understanding it was to go back exactly like it was," she said.

Developers stood before the Livingston Parish Council on August 9, 2018, for a waiver request. Those waivers were granted since council members say they were under the impression everything was already given the green light by the Planning Department.

"We were told it was an existing mobile home park," said Councilman Jeff Ard. "The ball got dropped the moment the trailers got auctioned off."

Ard says the council was focused on beautifying the area. Corban says if the community had known these waivers were involving a mobile home community in Livingston, there would have been representation at that meeting. Instead, the community did not attend and no one objected.

"There should have been at minimum a sign there, there should have been a notice in the paper and that was not done," said Corban. "There was an agenda by the council stating this was on there, but it didn't describe anything to it. No one was aware of it, there was no representation of the community."

Digirolamo has told others in the past and Thursday told 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss that given the opportunity he would have handled things differently.

"I think if I had to do it over again Brittany, I would do it a little different," said Digirolamo. "It was just a call I made as a Director and maybe it was a bad call. But I still, you know, I made that call in good faith and after thinking about it a little bit I should have done something different."

Councilman Ard says this item will be placed back on the agenda for September 13, 2018. The objective is to rescind the waivers that were granted and send the mobile home community back to the Planning Department for review.

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