Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Annexation and infrastructure tensions erupt among Lafayette and Broussard mayors By Walter Pierce
A long-running, wide-ranging animus between the administrations in Lafayette and Broussard is red, tender and throbbing yet again, due this time to a refusal by Lafayette Consolidated Government to provide water to an unincorporated subdivision surrounded by the corporate limits of Broussard.
The animosity and mistrust between the administrations of Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel and Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais have been well chronicled by local media, this newspaper included. The latest flare-up centers around Shenandoah Estates, a tidy subdivision of about 225 middle class homes near Bayou Tortue Road that is completely enveloped by the city of Broussard.
Shenandoah’s water service is supplied by Total Environmental Solutions Inc., a private, state-regulated utility company. Residents in the neighborhood have long complained about the service provided by TESI, and have lobbied Langlinais to annex them into the city, which would make them eligible to receive clean, potable LUS water. (LUS, under former C-P President Walter Comeaux, entered into a long-term contract with Broussard nearly two decades ago to sell water at wholesale to the south Lafayette Parish city. LUS has contracts with other small municipalities and water works districts within Lafayette Parish as well, but does not supply water to unincorporated parts of the parish that are not covered by those water works districts. As a result, roughly 80 percent of Lafayette Parish receives LUS water. Shenandoah Estates does not.)
Langlinais recently sent a request to LCG asking that LUS enter into a third-party agreement with TESI to provide LUS water to Shenandoah. Citing the contractual agreement between LCG and Broussard for LUS water, which stipulates said water can only be supplied to the city limits of Broussard, Durel, no doubt relishing every moment of it, politely but firmly declined. His response, in part, reads:
It is not in the “best interest” of LCG ... to enter into a third-party wholesale water agreement for resale of wholesale water outside the corporate limits of another municipality in this circumstance.
Shenandoah Estates is completely surrounded by the corporate limits of Broussard and cannot be served or annexed by any other municipality. LCG has not entered into third-party wholesale water agreements under any other circumstances previously. LCG does not desire to set the precedent of allowing other municipal customers to resell City of Lafayette-produced wholesale water outside of their respective municipal boundaries to third-party resellers when the transaction does nothing to improve the reliability of Lafayette’s water system or to improve existing service to current customers of Lafayette.
These issues and concerns could be immediately eliminated by Broussard’s annexation of Shenandoah Estates. If that annexation were to occur, Section I (1) of the Wholesale Water Agreement clearly provides that Shenandoah Estates would automatically become part of the area to be served with LCG water.
Until such annexation, however, LCG declines to enter into a third-party agreement to allow the resale of LCG wholesale water to TESI for service to Shenandoah Estates Subdivision.
L.J. “Joey” Durel Jr.
Langlinais, who has been accused of “cherry picking” his annexations by favoring commercial corridors that generate sales tax revenue while avoiding residential subdivisions — Broussard has no property tax, thus annexing subdivisions increases Broussard’s infrastructure and services burden while generating no additional revenue — fired off a snarky email to Durel on Wednesday in response to the LCG snub. Langlinais refers to LCG in the email as “LCOG” and copied C-P Councilman Don Bertrand, who represents Shenandoah. His response also references the annexation battles fought between Lafayette and Broussard, notably last year as the Ambassador South extension opened to new development:
We have no desire or intention on incorporating Shenandoah and like everything with Durel/LCG, it’s a control issue…………
JOEY, HOW EASY is it to execute a three-party agreement??? This BS about “its not in the best interest of LCOG or LUS” , let me tell you, its not in the BEST INTEREST of Broussard to provide Shenandoah water although we are willing to do so at an estimated cost of $80K to the citizens of Broussard!! Further, by law you DO NOT HAVE TO BE CONTIGUOUS to incorporate Shenandoah…..just look at that BS you pulled on Caffery and Fabacher/Vieux Chenes….. was in the best interest of LCOG then?! AND DO I NEED TO REMIND YOU that you opposed our legislation last year to provide water/sewer services to out lying areas!!!! Flat out wrote a letter AND appeared before the legislative committees reviewing same……I suspect that I could get a copy of minutes in which your 4 or 5 people (and you) stating on the record your opposition!
DON Bertrand – you need to step up here and put your foot down!! These are your constituents! Not mine!
The Ind has learned through a source in Shenandoah Estates that Durel and Bertrand will meet with residents on June 13 at Lafayette City Hall to discuss their concerns.
Location: Hugh Wallis Road where it meets Kaliste Saloom
Acreage: 13.7 acres
Property taxes paid in 2010: $30.71
Owner: Cynthia Hadnot, JGT Investments LLC, Cindy Torian, all of Dallas
Just like the “woodlands” on Ambassador Caffery near Wal-Mart, this Hugh Wallis property is covered with trees, which is one of the few ways the Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor’s Office is able to verify that there is no real farming activity taking place and subsequently force the landowners to be moved into another tax bracket.
[Editor’s Note: “Fair Share” is part of an ongoing Independent Weekly investigative series to expose local property owners who appear to be abusing what is widely viewed as an outdated state law. The state law mainly relies on the honesty of landowners who claim that there is some type of agricultural activity on their land in order to pay extremely low property taxes. While we argue that the law needs to be changed, we also maintain there is no excuse to exploit it. We have identified numerous tracts of land throughout the parish that benefit from the exemption yet have no agricultural activity whatsoever taking place on them.]
1. 1900 Kaliste Saloom Road (corner of Kaliste Saloom and Camellia Boulevard)
• 13.5 acres
• owned by Parc Lafayette developer Glenn Stewart
• paid $42 in property taxes in 2010
• lost ag status for 2011 due to breaking ground on development
2. 3100 Ambassador Caffery
• 11 acres of forested land
• owned mostly by members of the Arnould family
• paid $28.69 in property taxes in 2010
• lost ag status due to The Independent Weekly’s investigation
3. 200 Alleman Drive
• 8 acres of undeveloped land with a residential building using city services
• owned by attorney Greg Logan
• paid $17.41 in property taxes in 2010
• lost ag status due to The Independent Weekly’s investigation
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