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The West Monroe Board of Aldermen used its first regular meeting of the year to hear from each city department head but not before entertaining two applications for mobile home use within the city’s corporate limits, which captured the board’s attention.

Representing his own company, Frenchie Investments LLC, former West Monroe police officer Terry Bourgeois asked the Board of Aldermen to approve his application for a mobile home at 114 Sunshine Ave. Bourgeois said he and his wife own rental property along Sunshine Avenue and rely on money generated by the rentals to supplement their retirement income. Bourgeois founded and operated Auto Body Specialists in West Monroe, which he has since sold.

Bourgeois owned and rented a mobile home at the Sunshine Avenue address since 2017, but the mobile home was destroyed by a fallen tree during last year’s hurricane. Since 2017, though, the Board of Aldermen rezoned the Sunshine Avenue area for single family dwellings only, which typically excludes mobile homes.

The West Monroe Planning Commission did not grant a favorable review for Bourgeois’s application at its meeting last month, deferring to the Board of Aldermen to make a decision.

Complicating the matter is the city’s efforts to develop a master plan for West Monroe to utilize in mapping the city’s growth for years to come.

Last year, the city engaged a company that specializes in developing master plans for municipalities, McClure. McClure, which is has since changed its name to CHM LLC dba Atlas Community Studios, has plans to visit West Monroe in February for a series of meetings to gather input from West Monroe residents and business owners.

McClure was scheduled to be in West Monroe last month, but the trip was cancelled because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because of an act of God, your property was destroyed,” said Mayor Staci Mitchell. “This is a very difficult decision.”

Alderwoman Morgan Buxton expressed concern with allowing mobile home use in an area of the city designated for single family housing, but she also acknowledged Bourgeois already owned a mobile home on Sunshine Avenue before the city rezoned the area.

“We need affordable housing in West Monroe,” said Buxton, who made the motion to approve Bourgeois’s application.

Aldermen approved Bourgeois’ application by a unanimous vote but not before West Monroe High School football coach Jerry Arledge and West Monroe insurance agent Blake Wheelis spoke in support of Bourgeois.

Besides Bourgeois’ application, the Board of Aldermen also gave Paula Garcia the green light to located a mobile home on her property at 1508 Eby St.

On another front, West Monroe code enforcement official Marie Knight complained to the Board of Aldermen about litter in West Monroe.

She reiterated her point by entering the Board of Aldermen meeting tossing trash on the floor.

“I see this every day,” Knight said.

West Monroe finance director Scott Olvey reported the city’s audit for the 2019-2020 fiscal year was delayed because the state was late in issuing procedures to audit CARES Act funding received by local government. Olvey was hopeful the city’s audit would be released next month.

Olvey also reported the city was “on target” to make budget in the 2020-2021 fiscal year in spite of the pandemic.

“We should finish the year just as we had planned,” Olvey said.

West Monroe’s fiscal year runs from July 1-June 30.

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