The Louisiana Supreme Court, in a decision handed down Tuesday, ruled against Jeffrey and Sheila Persons. The couple has fought to regain the 2 percent of their property expropriated in 2010 by the Lafayette City-Parish Government to make way for the Settlers Trace extension.
Out of the four property owners affected by the project, which extended Settlers Trace Boulevard through Old Settlement Road and Homestead Way, only the Persons refused to sell, prompting LCG's expropriation.
When the matter first went to court in 2010, 15th Judicial District Judge John Trahan found LCG's expropriation to be within the bounds of the law. But the Persons appealed and successfully got Trahan's decision overturned late last year by a divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court's ruling Tuesday reverses the 3rd Circuit's decision.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court references testimony given during the district court trial by two LCG department heads: Public Works Director Tom Carroll and Traffic and Transportation Director Tony Tramel. Though the Persons claim no traffic or accident studies were conducted by the two LCG officials, the Supreme Court's decision notes that both Carroll and Tramel are experts in their respective fields, and therefore credible witnesses.
"(T)he testimony of Mr. Trammel [sic] and Mr. Carroll was supported by objective evidence of traffic flow problems in the area, including evidence that the residents hired a security officer to direct traffic to help residents exit the subdivision," the decision states. "These experts testified the expropriation would allow for additional ingress/egress into the subdivision, which would improve traffic flow and public safety, provide residents with access to a signalized intersection, and provide more options for … emergency vehicles."