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PN pool owner arrested on warrants at meeting

PORT NECHES — A Port Neches man who city officials say they have tried to contact for more than a year regarding the condition of his in-ground pool left a council meeting in handcuffs on Thursday.
Norman A. Desmarais Jr. was in attendance for a demolition hearing during a Port Neches City Council meeting. After the decision to do away with the pool was finalized by council Desmarais was placed under arrest for a Port Neches city ordinance violation warrant and a failure to appear warrant. Bond for the city ordinance violation warrant was set at $276 and the failure to appear warrant bond was set at $292.70, according to Lt. Gutierrez at the Jefferson County Correctional facility.
Councilmembers Robert Arnold, Adam Anders and Chris McMahon sat stone faced while Desmarais and Larry Reynolds, assistant public works director/building official, discussed the pool condition. Councilmembers Julie Gauthier and John Davenport were absent.
With hand on his hip Desmarais glared at Reynolds while asking “What needs to be done? What is the problem?”
Reynolds explained the pool needed to be maintained or backfilled as it is deemed a potential health hazard. Three images of the pool and surrounding area were shown with one photo showing what appeared to be dark colored water.
Desmarais, who addressed council while standing near the back of the room, suggested draining the pool, to which Reynolds replied this would be a temporary fix until rain water collected back in the pool.
“We have had no response from you in three years,” Reynolds said.
According to the city, notification of the city ordinance violation was sent by both regular mail and certified mail to the address in the 1100 block of Bowlin on Aug. 1, 2014, and the city received the unclaimed certified letter on Aug. 12, 2014. A municipal court date was set for Oct. 22, 2014, and the owner did not appear in court.
Further certified letters were sent, and returned, in October and April.
City Manager Andrè Wimer laid out the options for council — leave the pool as is or order a demolition with a specific timeline with the caveat the city would step in should the demo not occur and a lien would be placed against the property. Complications would arise should the owner be given time to repair the pool and it not happen. If so, then the whole demolition legal process would have to be repeated.
Mayor Glenn Johnson asked Desmarais if he had anything further to say, adding that the city was concerned they had sent letters to the address and had no response.
“The pool is a mess but I don’t see why it’s a health hazard,” Desmarais responded. “Has any testing been done?”
Reynolds told Desmarais and council that the city had received complaints from neighbors of bullfrogs, mosquitoes and smell.
“There is no smell,” Desmarais said. “So this is a nuisance not a health hazard.”
Johnson stepped in to get the issue to a vote.
“We have gone through three years of trying to address this,” Johnson said. “I gave you an opportunity to respond to why three registered letters were not responded to.”
Desmarais said he never received the letters.
Council voted to give the owner 30 days to demolish the pool.
As council moved on to other business, Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine walked out of the meeting room with Desmarais, who was put under arrest in the lobby for the warrants.
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