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Tangled in red tape, city's citations haven't touched tenants operating industrial business out of home

1 year 3 months 2 weeks ago Friday, February 05 2021 Feb 5, 2021 February 05, 2021 8:30 AM February 05, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- Despite being cited for running an illegal business at a residence, nothing seems to be able to stop the violators in the 2600 block of Jackson Avenue.

A number of neighbors tell WBRZ, they first tried to talk to the tenants there about the loud work they were doing in the middle of the night. Those complaints fell on deaf ears, so they elevated it to the city level. When code inspectors paid a visit, they found multiple violations that were documented in the months of September, November and this month. The area behind the house is littered with heavy machinery, tree trucks, motors, and bins of chemicals.

Lawrenceen Wheeler is a disabled veteran who is now blind. He said he is at his wits end.

"I know if the mayor or the chief had a neighbor like mine, they would not tolerate that," Wheeler said.

Wheeler is not the only one complaining either. Neighbors Eloise Paulfrey and Betty Alex said they have also complained.

"We've called the police, fire department they've been reported to every department I can think of, and they are not moving anything," Paulfrey said. "They are bringing more trash, junk and bang all night long."

"I've never in my life dealt with this, never," Alex said. "It's horrible here."

Both Paulfrey and Alex have lived in their homes for more than 45 years. The noises that are occurring happen in the middle of the night when code inspectors are not at work. The problem has led to multiple calls to police.

Councilman Lamont Cole said code inspectors have visited more than half a dozen times and he's paid a visit personally to that location at least five times.

"It's a complete mess," Cole said. "It's deplorable."

The WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained information that showed citations have been issued at least three times since September for cars parked in the street and running a tree business. When inspectors paid a visit this week, there was no change.

"The parish attorneys office is in the process of sending them a letter and filing suit," Cole said.

We reached out to the tenants operating the business at the residence.

Michael Littlejohn said he tries to be as respectful as possible to his neighbors around him.

"I'm not breaking any laws," Littlejohn said. "I try to do it within hours."

Littlejohn said he recognizes that the neighbors have called the police on him hundreds of times, and said he's just trying to earn an honest living.

"I don't intend to make them mad, or intend to hurt anybody," Littlejohn said. "Sometimes at night, we work at night there's too much traffic during the daytime."

The problems that have occurred here have gone through all city processes. Even after five months passing, nothing has changed what's going on at that location. It's frustrating for the residents here who believe if they lived in a more affluent area, this would not be taking place.

The Mayor's office released the following statement.

"Through our research we have been able to confirm that BRPD have visited this residence several times regarding a noise complaint and have documented these issues. Additionally, city-parish code enforcement has found several violations at the property, including illegal operation of a business. Violation letters have been issued to the property owner and subsequent inspections have revealed the issues persist. The violations will be forwarded to the Parish Attorney's office for further legal action."

Councilman Cole said the city intends to sue to stop the illegal business that's occurring at a residential home.

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