KENNER -- The city of Kenner issued two more summonses Thursday against owners of properties that received free dirt from the $1 billion north terminal construction project at Louis Armstrong International Airport.
The city had already taken action Wednesday against one property owner who had received the excess airport dirt, after WWL-TV asked if the piles of thick clay could have contributed to surprise flooding in homes across the street.
The vacant property owners were allowed to receive the free dirt but were required to get permits first and then level the dirt on their lots, city officials said.
Kenner work crews continued to excavate mud Thursday along the edge of those properties, trying to beat the rain and uncover several buried storm drains on the vacant side of Connecticut Avenue, two blocks from the main airport access road.
Kenner officials told WWL-TV they believe other factors, such as the heavy downpour Saturday close on the heels of Tropical Storm Cindy, the lower elevation of the houses and some clogged storm drains on the populated side of the street, were to blame for the unprecedented house flooding. But residents, including Earl Arnouville, who built his home there 58 years ago, were convinced that the fill from the airport caused the drainage problems.
City officials said none of the property owners on the side with the fill got the proper permits to receive the dirt from the airport. They issued a summons Wednesday to Luis Laitano, owner of Gol Station, which was planning a soccer complex on his family’s lots near 21st Street. On Thursday, the also city sent citations to David Jeansonne and Jeff Long, partners who planned to build warehouse-style rentals on their property in the middle of the block, according to Long.
Long told WWL-TV that he had no idea that any permits were required for the donated dirt or that the fill dumped on the property was causing any problems until he met with city officials Thursday. He immediately promised to install a silt fence to protect the street and drainage areas and level the dirt as soon as it dries out enough to manage.
He said he dealt directly with Kolb Grading, a subcontractor on the airport project, when they offered to donate and dump the dirt at nearby properties. He said the city wasn’t involved and that’s why he didn’t know about any permitting requirements.
The airport is owned by the City of New Orleans. It said it had no involvement in the delivery or distribution of the excess fill.