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Vacant Property Ordinance Sparks Controversy in Opelousas

Opelousas City Council members casted their votes on Ordinance 33, which aims to tighten rules on abandoned, commercial properties.
Posted at 10:14 PM, Feb 14, 2023

Owners of non-residential buildings in Opelousas spoke out against plans to move forward with tightening rules against landlords.

In an Opelousas City Council meeting on Tuesday night, the majority of the members were also against moving forward with holding property owners accountable.

Lena Charles work for the Opelousas Downtown Development District. She said there are more than 60, vacant, commercial properties in the city and they are hindering opportunities for economic development.

"That's lost revenue to the city," Charles said. "That's tax dollars that could be coming in from businesses that could be open, new business, business that can re-generate, also hire employees."

Charles said she was born and raised in Opelousas and wants the city to thrive, like it used to.

City Councilman Milton Batiste said he was disappointed in the ballot, but he's optimistic the topic can be reconsidered.

"Next time, we need more of a public voice," Batiste said. "As a city, we do need to take steps in the right direction."

Several property owners raised concerns about how the proposed ordinance would impact their pockets.

One attendee asked, "Did Mrs. Charles speak with any architects to see what it would take to re-purpose these buildings before she drafted and or copied this ordinance?"

The next meeting for the Opelousas City Council is scheduled for March 8.