“I am exasperated”, travelers settle illegally on municipal land in Drôme, the mayor files a complaint

“I am exasperated”, travelers settle illegally on municipal land in Drôme, the mayor files a complaint
“I am exasperated”, travelers settle illegally on municipal land in Drôme, the mayor files a complaint

The mayor of Coucourde, in Drôme, filed a complaint for illegal occupation after observing the installation of several dozen caravans on municipal land.

“Sunday, from 4:30 p.m., an evangelist community came to settle in the municipal stadium of La Coucourde”noted Jean-Luc Zanon, socialist mayor of this small Drôme commune. “It is an illegal installation due to the fact that we are covered by the existence of a Travelers area in Montélimar. We are part of the intercommunality of Montélimar Agglomération, we are therefore covered by the regulations. On all our common, they are therefore on illegal parking”, explains the chosen one.

The members of this community proposed to the mayor to pay for their water supply, electricity and for waste removal. But so as not to legitimize their installation, the elected official refused.

Fearing possible damage to this equipment, the mayor of La Coucourde filed a complaint on May 20 with the Montélimar gendarmerie following the arrival of this evangelical community of travelers. Around forty caravans and as many vehicles have set up on this sports ground, despite blocked access. “Rocks were removed (…) a handrail was dismantled to be able to enter the stadium,” deplores the elected official.

The mayor of La Coucourde fears in particular damage to the lawn on the site, as well as to the drinking water and electricity installations. The latter notes in passing that illicit connections have already been made. “I have filed a complaint and we are going to issue an eviction order, via Montélimar Agglomération”indicated the city councilor. But once the complaint has been filed, the mayor must wait for a decision from the prefecture. “I can’t force them to leave, I don’t have the power to do so,” he explains.

“It’s a used stadium and has a very beautiful lawn,” specifies Jean-Luc Zanon. According to him, this illicit occupation “penalizes the community life of the municipality”. This municipal stadium is used by a local football club, associations and schools.

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An illegally occupied stadium: the mayor says he is “exasperated”.

© France tv

The mayor of this Drôme commune of a thousand inhabitants says he “exasperated” by these illicit installations. They generally take place during the Pentecost period and after returning from vacation, he specifies. “We feel helpless, deprived and alone when this happens to us”adds Jean-Luc Zanon.

Why did this evangelist community not settle in the specially designed Montélimar reception area? Response from travelers: “There is no space to accommodate them here. There is no space to accommodate 40 other caravans. And there is no other area in Montélimar. They settle where there is has room”, explains an occupant of the Montélimar reception area. The site is already very busy.

With a surface area of ​​8,800 m², it has 16 locations for 34 spaces of 75 m². However, this intercommunal reception area is not a structure for major passages. “Its number of places is therefore limited”, indicates the agglomeration on its site.

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Montélimar Agglomération travel area – May 2024

© France tv

Saturated or non-existent reception areas. What about the Departmental Plan for Welcoming Travelers which runs until 2028 in Drôme? If the agglomeration of Montélimar meets the legal obligation to provide land for travelers, other communities of municipalities in the Rhône valley still do not fulfill their obligations, regrets Jean-Luc Zanon. “If all municipalities with more than 5,000 inhabitants responded to this Departmental Plan, there would be fewer problems”assures the latter.

The law in fact obliges municipalities with more than 5,000 inhabitants: the latter must appear in the Departmental Plan for the Reception of Travelers which sets reception objectives for them, in terms of the number of caravan spaces. The Departmental Plan for the Reception of Travelers 2022 – 2028 had notably pointed to a southern Drôme “too poorly equipped”.

The community based in La Coucourde plans to pack up on Sunday May 26. Unless the caravans are expelled by then by prefectural decision.

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