Youngsville city council votes to deny variances for butler buildings at Southside High School

From left to right: City treasurer Benjamin ‘Ben’ Burley, chief administrative officer Simone Champagne, city clerk Sally Angers and Mayor Ken Ritter listens to Director of Planning and Facilities for Lafayette Parish School System Kyle Bordelon during the Youngsville city council meeting Nov. 14. The council voted to deny variances for butler buildings at Southside High School.

Photo by Heidi Thevis

Heidi Thevis
@HeidiThevis

The discussion of butler buildings being moved to Southside High School, Youngsville’s newest high school, dominated the conversation at the Youngsville city council meeting Nov. 14.

The proposition of six variances to help move butler buildings was brought up by Kyle Bordelon,  director of planning and facilities for Lafayette Parish School System. 

The variances were for the age requirement of the buildings, the 140 mph wind load requirement for the buildings, the skirting of the buildings, the facade color requirements for the buildings’ roofs, the non-porous foundation requirements for the buildings and a chain link fence around the buildings. 

According to Bordelon, the school board’s original plan was to move six butler buildings to Southside High School, but because of the overpriced bids that they received, the number was reduced to three. 

“We are working on trying to get numbers right now to determine if moving just three buildings and the furniture that’s going to go with it will fit the budgeted funds that we have available,” Bordelon said at the city council meeting. “If you deny some of these [variances], it’s going to increase our costs on these buildings.”

Bordelon said the school board wants to move butler buildings to Southside High School because the members of the board are expecting more students to enroll in the school, therefore causing overpopulation. 

Ken Ritter, the mayor of Youngsville, said the concern he and the council were having over these variances was that they were being asked to award them based on what might happen next month at the school board’s meeting. 

“I thought the conversation would have been at this week’s [school board] meeting,” Ritter said. “It’s hard to follow their lead when we don’t know what that direction is. We don’t know what the situation is.”

Councilman Lindy Bolgiano said he thought it was inconsiderate for the school board to put this matter on the council.

“For someone who spent years in the school system in those exact buildings and telling me you want to move them to Youngsville at our brand new, state-of-the-art high school is foolish to begin with,” Bolgiano said. “It more or less feels like they [the school board] want us to make the decision for them so they can just follow our lead.”

Donald Aguillard, the newly elected school board member for District 9, told Bolgiano that was not the case.

“I don’t think the school board is asking you to lead,” Aguillard said. “The new board will be seated in January, and the new board is not capable of making this decision.”

Councilman Kenneth “Ken” Stansbury said he wants to work with the school board and see what the Youngsville city council could deliver to the school board. Councilman Matt Romero said he agreed with Stansbury.

“They built the school with the money they had available,” Romero said. “For us to sit here and say they should have built an extra wing or something like that, they didn’t have the money.”

Councilman Gary Williams voiced his disagreement with the variances by saying the school board was asking the council to break almost every ordinance and law in Youngsville to put the buildings at Southside High School. 

Councilman Jamison “Jamey” Abshire said this problem was caused by the rezoning that happened at the end of the previous school year, which he said was messed up to begin with.

The council voted to table the variance to 140 mph wind load requirement for the butler buildings. The other five variances were denied.

“Just because you have money in your wallet doesn’t mean you need to spend it,” Bolgiano said. “While I agree with you that we could, I don’t think spending it on butler buildings is a positive reflection on Youngsville.”

Youngsville city council board members discuss zoning at the Nov. 14 city council meeting.
By Heidi Thevis

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