Time running out for livestock owners in city limits

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - When it comes to the livestock within the city limits, Raymond Ledet has been fighting it near his home off Fitzenreiter Road for nearly a decade. According to Ledet it's not only a nuisance but the smell is something nearby residents should not have to endure, especially when most of the horse owners don't even live on the property where they keep their horses.

Back in December, Ledet's persistence got the law changed. All livestock inside Lake Charles City limits have to now be 300 feet away from the nearest dwelling and 150 feet away from the nearest property line. However, neighbors can give written consent saying they don't have a problem with it. Still Lake Charles City Attorney Billy Lofton explains that doesn't mean an automatic green light.

"That's just for a waiver of one aspect of it. It doesn't dictate what action the council takes and ever with that waiver it doesn't dictate whether council will approve at all," said Lofton.

Anyone living within one mile of the livestock can object. Several such petitions are currently circulating. Meanwhile aside from not complying with the current law, most of the structures on the properties do not meet city code.

"It's not a matter of putting the cart before the horse. Now you've got to the put the stall before the horse because you can't even get a horse in because you don't have a stall to put them in," said Marshall Simien, Lake Charles City Councilman.

Most of the structures have been red-tagged by city inspectors and are up for a condemnation hearing. The horse and property owners are now asking for forgiveness and a special permit to keep the horses on the property.

"They've had a lot of time. Do we have arrangements in place to remove the animals," asked Simien.

Negotiations are still in the works with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office to remove the animals if need be, but city officials say if a permit is not approved they'll try to give the animal owner enough time to make necessary arrangements.

We did speak with several horse owners - all declined to go on camera, but say they plan to be at the meeting. The first round of hearings are set for the Wednesday April 26th regular city council meeting.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved.