City council vs. Home Rule Charter

At the April 14 Zachary city council meeting, sparks flew between Councilman Melvin Riley and Home Rule Charter Commission member John Hopewell.

The issue at hand is whether or not the city council has the right to ammend or make changes to the recommendations made by the Home Rule Charter Commission, which was created by unanimous vote, April 22, 2008.

Hopewell maintains that after the commission submits its recommendations to the council, by state law, the council is required to present the recommendations to the voters by way of special election.

Riley asserts that the HRC was created to clarify language found in the city charter which is ambiguous at best.

“This is going beyond what I understand their mission to be,” said Riley.

Hopewell responded, “It’s too late, I don’t think you can put the genie back in the bottle. You may have wanted a committee, but you got a commission.”

Riley said if it came down to it, he would take the commission to court in order to block the recommendations from going to voters without the council first being able to have its input.

“The council chose to be hands-off at this point and we very well may have to sue you guys,” said Hopewell, “if you don’t present the recommendations in a special election.”

He also referred to the minutes from April 22, 2008, in which the HRC was created and which clearly state “to appoint a Home Rule Charter Commission to review the Charter of the City of Zachary and make recommendations for changes to be presented to the voters for approval.”

“If they do not present to the city for special election, then there’s a problem,” added Hopewell, also an attorney.

Hopewell told Mayor Martinez that it would likely be the summer before the HRC would present its recommendations.

In other action, the Zachary city council denied plans for a new car care facility to be built on Highway 964 (Old Scenic Highway) near the Lake Pointe subdivision.

In a public hearing, property owner David Stewart spoke in favor of the the auto maintenance shop while members of the homeowner’s associations filled council chamber seats to speak against the proposed car business.

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