Foix: Residents opposed to the development of a carpentry shop

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Jean-Marie Piquemal bought land, avenue de Cos, to move his carpentry workshop there. This is without taking into account the opposition of local residents, who fear noise and air pollution. They filed an appeal against the town hall of Foix, which issued the building permit.

Having drawn up the project for the future carpentry shop, granted the credit from the bank, the partners of the Piquemal company could already see themselves working in better conditions, moving from a 150 m2 room2 500 meters away2. The plot adjacent to the company, installed in the manager’s house on avenue de Cos, was purchased in January 2023 and the building permit was granted by the town hall of Foix on November 22, 2022.

Everything was fine in the mind of Jean-Marie Piquemal, head of a company created in 2008, which manufactures solid wood and melamine furniture, for kitchens, living rooms, dressing rooms…, and also installs windows and doors. A family business because Joëlle, his wife, and Jean-Michel, his son, now work alongside him.

“With the new workshop we wanted to optimize the space. In the current situation we are too cramped compared to the machines and we can’t each work on a project. We would also like forklifts to enter the room to take the large wooden slabs directly to the machines”, explains the manager. Recently, her wife broke both bones in her wrist as she grabbed the boards. She was in the wrong place at the studio entrance, due to lack of room to move.

Four owners opposed to the project

Such an incident was no longer to occur with construction starting in March for a move in June, knowing the current workshop would serve as a warehouse. But the panel announcing the building permit objected to residents whose homes are on the right side of the lot. “He didn’t have to explain the project to us, but he could come and see us. We expected to have houses next door but not a carpentry workshop. There are so many areas of activity, we don’t understand why we allow it in a residential area», explains one of the owners, who is against the project.

What they fear is the noise and air pollution it would cause. “He works in the basement of his house, you can’t hear a thing. If he stays 10 m from our house, we will hear the sawmill, with eight machines inside, every day from 8 to 19. And in the summer he will open the windows because it will be too hot”, adds another owner. “It is compliant with its large chip extractors. But for a room of 500 m2, can you imagine the noise? And the particles in the air, I’m not sure if they are good for health”, adds his wife. Not to mention the noise of the trucks that would bring the carpentry elements closer to the houses.

Manager Jean-Marie Piquemal installed a machine in a hangar, not having enough space in his workshop.

Meetings between the craftsman and the locals took place, but everyone remained in place. “I offered them to plant fruit trees to make a green wall, install 3cm thick soundproofing and give up the stove to put in a heat pump, because they were afraid of the fumes,” says Jean-Marie Piquemal. Arrangements that didn’t convince. “They put the noise helmets in the workshop, which tests the noise well,” retorts one of the residents.

A mistake by the municipality?

Four owners therefore filed a non-contentious appeal with the town hall of Foix on 18 January 2023. Since the latter did not follow up, in May they turned to the administrative court challenging the town hall, which issued the building permit. The text recalls that “given the configuration of the premises and the positioning of the properties (…), they will suffer obvious inconveniences in terms of view, sunshine, noise”.

In addition to these considerations, the lawyer requests the cancellation of the license on the basis of the fact that “the contested decision is tainted by illegitimacy”. At issue: “The authorization decree concerns the Local Urban Plan (PLU) of July 7, 2015, while said decree dates back to November 22, 2022 and the modified PLU was approved on October 19, 2022. area UC the field”. A classification reserved for a residential area, and not for a carpentry workshop.

When questioned on the matter, the town hall did not give an answer. Jean-Marie Piquemal, has no intention of going to court, having in his hands a loan to repay. “Justice takes time, I’m not going to keep paying eight years for something I don’t have.” He decided to divide his lot into three building lots and put them up for sale. For now, its expansion project is stalled. “Some people told me to leave but I’m Fuxian at heart, I want to stay in my mountains!”

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