Clearly vexed by the continuing hassle over trail rides -- when, how often, how many riders, security, etc. -- seven members voted to get out of the ride-permitting business when Dist. 5 member Ron Buschel made that motion.
His proposal was for the parish to have no trail ride jurisdiction, dissolving itself of dealing with the cowboys and cowgirls.
That proposal came after members had heard appeals from the audience on behalf of various equestrian organizations concerning proposed changes in the parish ordinance dealing with them, and after council members had exchanged various opinions and unpleasantries with each other on the subject.
After the vote, Parish President Don Menard cautioned that revoking the ordinance, which would take some time and require public hearings, might not be the wisest course.
On reconsideration, the council dropped the dissolution resolution.
It then approved two trail rides scheduled for July and put three calendared for August, September and October on hold.
The council plans to hear proposed revisions once more in committee, then take action of ordinance amendments at its July session.
Among those are:
– Holding the number of riders at 500 to 700. Sheriff Bobby Guidroz has said he’ll no longer approve more than 500. The trail ride organizations ordinarily go to Guidroz for approval before coming before the council;
– Requiring four flagmen per 100 riders instead of the current two;
– Requiring numbered registration tags on the front and back of shirts;
– Levying a $1,000 fine per violation of the ordinance.
The council has gone back and forth on the trail-ride subject since complaints grew regarding riders and their steeds wandering from public rights of way into yards, in some cases with both horses and riders answering nature’s call.
Additionally, some have complained that what was once a traditional family-oriented activity has become a traveling adult party -- noisy, disruptive and disgusting.
Ride organizers appearing at Wednesday night’s meeting contend they are being penalized for the faults of a few and pleaded with the council to allow them to retain a valued part of their heritage.
Some council sentiments:
Leon Robinson -- “We shouldn’t penalize anyone because we haven’t gotten this done yet. Let’s not single anyone out. Grant the permits and adjust as we go.”
Albert Hollier -- “I’m saying let’s approve these five, then freeze permitting.”
Pam Gautreaux -- “We have been working on this forever. Let’s allow the July applicants in because they have put time and money into getting ready, and freeze after July until the ordinance is amended and adopted.”
Jay Guidry -- “I remind people that we put people with subdivision plans on hold until we revised our ordinance. What’s the difference?”
Jerry Red, Jr., -- “Maybe subdivisions was a mistake, but two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Fekisha Miller-Matthews -- ““We’re talking a lot of time to develop a trail ride, maybe up to a year. It’s not good to put these people on hold until we get it done.”
Buschel -- “Let what happens happen, then we’ll be back here. Have your trail rides -- let it happen and then we’ll be back.”
The next roundup will be July 20.