Girard Park residents’ ongoing battle with an unneighborly neighbor, attorney Jimmy Davidson, took an unexpected turn Jan. 24 when a state district court judge ruled that if Davidson is successful in court, Lafayette Consolidated Government would be entitled to the same relief for property it owns in the area. That “relief,” as our Feb. 1 cover “Don’t Back Down” analyzed, is Davidson’s lawsuit against his neighbors to nullify a 1940 covenant that restricts Girard Park Drive frontage to residential use.
But those residents are asking the judge to nullify his judgment or grant a new trial, saying defendants in the original action were never served with the city’s intervention before the decision was rendered by District Judge John Trahan, nor were they served or given any notice that a hearing on the motion for judgment had been scheduled. “The first they thing they knew was a judgment had been signed,” says attorney Gary McGoffin, who has been hired by a group of Girard Park homeowners to help fight Davidson (McGoffin also represents The Independent).
What’s more, the residents claim, no evidence of any agreement of the involved property owners to terminate the covenant was presented to the court, and they say there is no proof as to the actual ownership of the property by LCG.
LCG maintains that two of its properties, the former planetarium site and Heymann Memorial Park, are both part of the covenant in question. In Davidson’s effort to void the covenant and sell his 4.1 acres at Girard Park and Hospital drives at their highest commercial value, he has been gathering support from affected residents since the mid-1990s and claims to now have releases from owners of 50 percent-plus of the total acreage encumbered by the covenant. It appears there are roughly 50 acres affected.
Residents opposed to Davidson’s lawsuit — he named 19 of his neighbors as defendants — fear that voiding the covenant will lead to more commercial intrusion in their historic residential setting. McGoffin is confident his clients can win in court, noting in part that Davidson has yet to present a plat to account for all the property encumbered by the act.
Read more here.
The INDsider will update this story after today's hearing.