DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (The Livingston Parish News) – A law over a decade old and a permitting snafu caused a stir in Livingston Parish.
Two couples banded together and decided to open an adult novelty and gifts store, somewhere in Livingston Parish. After settling on a name, Frenzies, and a location at 8028 Florida Boulevard Suite C, Denham Springs, Louisiana 70726 the group decided to apply for a permit and begin a buildout.
Maegan and Jamie Williams as well as Kayla and Hunter Lee received their permit on Feb. 24, 2021 and began renovating their new store. The inside required updating and changes, and a custom sign was built and installed.
However, a law passed in 2007 which, at the time, was enacted in order to ‘make sure growth was responsible’ actually prevented the creation of such businesses in Livingston Parish. Proposed by Danny Harrell, who feared that growth might bring ‘unsavory’ businesses to Livingston Parish, the ordinance restricted CBD and marijuana shops, fortune tellers, and establishments dealing with sex and ‘obscene materials.’
The full language of the law, which has been amended not to include CBD shops, among other things, can be found here in Section 42, Chapter 11, of the parish’s code of ordinances.
However, the group was not contacted until March 9 about the issue, over two weeks after being granted a permit. According to Kayla Lee, they were called by the Department of Public Works about the conflicting law, but no cease and desist letter or paperwork was delivered.
The ownership group stopped forward motion on the business to investigate and discovered the ordinance, and began to call councilmen across the parish for help. They were instructed to visit the Mar. 11, 2021 meeting of the council wherein John Wascom (District 4) had proposed a variance for the business.
However, variances – unless temporary – are frowned upon by the council because they ‘open doors’ that can’t be closed. Several councilmen expressed concern about offering a variance in any case to the whole ordinance, which might allow a strip club or other sex-based business to open outside of novelty and gifts.
“We want to do this the right way,” Councilman Garry ‘Frog’ Talbert said to the News, “the ordinance is antiquated and needs to be amended.”
Talbert also alluded to federal- and state-level judgements that suggested such a law could not be enforced against any business simply selling gift and novelty items.
“Especially since those things can be bought online directly, or a WalMart,” Talbert added.
Instead of a variance, the council opted to pass a resolution supporting the original permit issued, under the belief they would amend the ordinance to allow shops like Frenzies – which sell adult novelties and gifts – to open and operate.
Talbert voted ‘no,’ since the permit had already been issued.
Parish Permit Department Director DeeDee Delatte assured the ownership group that their permit would not be pulled as it had already been issued.
The next steps will be for the old law to go to ordinance committee for editing and suggestions, with an introduction in two weeks at the next council meeting Mar. 25. There will be another two week waiting period, before a public hearing on Apr. 8 to decide the fate of the amendments.
The general consensus from the council is that they would support amending the ordinance to allow shops like Frenzies to operate.
Parish Attorney Chris Moody also gave some assurances that, as long as the council intended to amend the law, the parish would not bring charges against Frenzies.
In the mean time, Frenzies and it’s owners were given freedom to continue their renovations and to open.