Category: *LOC Slot
Last Modified: 10:53:25 on 04/09/2002
Created: 10:53:25 on 04/09/2002
Publication: American Press
Publication Date: 04/09/2002
Page and Section: 3 a
×Publication American Press
×Category *LOC Slot
×SlugLine special session Allen reservoir
×Creator Jim Beam
Panel OKs Allen reservoir district
BATON ROUGE -- A bill that creates the Allen Parish Reservoir District was approved here Monday by the House Transportation, High-ways and Public Works Committee, but not before concerns were expressed about the district's ability to expropriate property.
Rep. Herman Ray Hill, D-Dry Creek, said his measure is designed to enhance economic development in Allen Parish. The reservoir will collect rainwater and water from area streams, if they exist, to be used for agricultural, recreational, commercial, industrial and sanitary purposes.
The reservoir would be administered by a board of five commissioners. They would be appointed by the governor and would have to be confirmed by the state Senate. Commissioners would receive no compensation.
An amendment to the bill would restrict the size of the reservoir to 6,000 acres. Johnny Koch, who represents the Powell Lumber Group, said the amendment is designed to limit the reservoir board's ability to expropriate property.
The board running the reservoir could create and construct recreational facilities for public use. It would also regulate commercial development in the area. The board could also sell water to industries to conserve underground supplies.
The lake would also be stocked with fish and could be used by watercraft. The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries would regulate both of those activities.
Hill said no specific property has been selected for the reservoir. He said several sites will be recommended and that the final decision will be made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Rep. Tom McVea, R-Jackson, said he is opposed to giving the reservoir board the authority to expropriate property. He offered an amendment to delete the provision, but McVea's move was rejected 8-5.
Mike Thompson, who represents the Poverty Point Reservoir in northeast Louisiana, said it has been tremendous for economic development. He said 26 pieces of property were expropriated without any problems to create its 3,000-acre lake.
People who lose land are paid at fair market value, and they have recourse in the courts if they don't agree with the selling price, he said.
Rep. Tank Powell, R-Ponchatoula, asked where the district would get its operating funds. Hill said federal grant money is available and that parish resources might also be used.
The reservoir board would have authority to levy a tax, but it would require a vote of the people. Hill said a tax isn't envisioned in the near future. He added that property owners have in some cases donated land for use as reservoirs.
Rep. Juba Diez, D-Gonzales, said Allen Parish is an impoverished area and that makes it eligible for federal grants.
Edmund J. Giering, operations manager for the Powell Group, said BH Timber is a landowner in Allen Parish and that it wants to see the reservoir created.
Hill said the reservoir legislation has the support of the Allen Parish Police Jury and city councils in the parish.
Thompson said reservoirs date back to 1972 and that there are seven or eight in the state. He said the Poverty Point Reservoir has helped create marinas, cabins and recreation facilities surrounding the reservoir.
A golf course has been constructed near the reservoir, and it is part of the Audubon Golf Trail.
Property owners who donated or sold property to the reservoir have land adjacent to the water area that is prime for development, Thompson said.