News, Sports and Entertainment for St. Martin Parish, La.

Lake Martin tourist trap?

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Analysis
Karl Jeter

On Thursday, May 5, starting at 6 p.m., the parish Planning and Zoning Commission will consider a request to allow commercial development at Lake Martin.
Two years ago, Brian Champagne, owner of a tour boat operation, shocked many fans of the nationally-renowned wildlife preserve by constructing a permanent building on the shore of the lake. He has subsequently moved more and more tourist-trap kitsch, including a big plastic alligator, gaudy signs and flags, houseboats and clutter that, many believe, diminish the lake’s value as a natural area.
Many people had the impression that the area was better protected from such development than it apparently is. Designation of the lake as a bird sanctuary and wildlife preserve through a supposedly protective W-1 zoning failed to prevent the construction.
The Sierra Club, the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, the TECHE Project, the Nature Conservancy, the Lake Martin Group and, possibly, St. Martin Parish Government oppose the rezoning and want tour operators, like everyone else, to be forced to operate legally.
Concerned citizens need to be heard if this unique and popular natural asset is to remain unspoiled for future generations of local residents and visitors to enjoy.

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