Y’ville approves annexation, Broussard blocked — for now
By a 3-2 vote Wednesday evening, the Youngsville City Council approved an ordinance annexing a roughly mile-long strip of land on the south side of the newly opened Ambassador Caffery Parkway extension from just west of La. 89 to the just west of Bonin Road. It is the latest turf war in an ongoing battle for land along the new roadway in south Lafayette Parish and, based on the tension in the standing-room-only council chamber and the frequency with which Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator wielded his gavel, a portent of things to come as Youngsville, Broussard and Lafayette scramble to acquire land in what promises to be a lucrative source of future sales tax revenue.
Depending on one’s reading of annexation law — opinions evidently differ even among various city-paid attorneys in the parish — Youngsville’s vote Wednesday effectively blocks Broussard from any further westward expansion along Ambassador. Or, if Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais’ assertion is correct that annexations needn’t be contiguous from a city’s corporate limits, Wednesday’s action could be a precursor to litigation between the two cities.
Langlinais attended Wednesday’s meeting in an apparent effort to offer an olive branch to Youngsville. The Broussard City Council Tuesday night tabled an annexation ordinance that would have overlapped Youngsville’s plan; Youngsville already had certification of petitions from the requisite number of landowners and registered voters in the area, and many on the Youngsville side were wary of Langlinais’ overtures.
“Why is it that Broussard is wanting to jump over and get into areas that would be a golden opportunity for Youngsville to have commercial development?” asked Youngsville Councilman Tim Barbier.
Langlinais reminded the Youngsville officials twice during the meeting that the Ambassador extension would not have happened had the city of Broussard not put up $10 million to convince the state to complete the roadway to U.S. 90. And Langlinais asserted that all he wanted was an amendment to Youngsville’s annexation ordinance allowing Broussard to run water and sewer along the edge of Ambassador to reach property farther west of Bonin Road that Broussard intended to annex.
But Mayor Viator was having none of it, striking his gavel at least twice during the approximately 40-minute meeting to interrupt Langlinais. “Mayor, you’re out of order,” Viator said brusquely early in the meeting. “We’re not here to talk about sewer. We here to talk about Ambassador Caffery road. Stick to the subject.”
The meeting took on an additional level of heat when it was revealed that Youngsville Councilman Pat Huval, a presumptive challenger to Viator in the next mayoral election, had discussions with Langlinais about Youngsville’s annexation plans. Huval insisted those contacts were merely a matter of maintaining good relations with Youngsville’s neighboring town.
“I’m all about making money for the town of Youngsville so we can give back to the people,” Huval said.
“So why are we concerned about Broussard?” countered Barbier.
Youngsville’s city attorney, George Knox, made the most forceful case for proceeding with the annexation: “If I’m asked for my recommendation to you as the attorney, I say annex the property tonight,” Knox said. “If tomorrow we want to enter into negotiations with the city of Broussard … all those things are still open and will be available for discussion. But if you come in and you start altering what has been put forth and what has been published, you’re running the risk that the entire annexation is going to fall… My research shows we have 100 percent followed the letter of the law, and we’re ready to annex this property.”
Commercial development along the stretch annexed by Youngsville is expected by some estimates to generate more than $3 million in annual sales tax. Currently the city, which is overwhelmingly a bedroom community for the city of Lafayette with a lot of residential development and very little retail development, takes in just over $2 million per year in sales tax.
Shortly before the assembly voted and adjourned, Langlinais said, “The point that I’m trying to make to the citizens of Youngsville is, don’t poison the well.”
After the meeting, Langlinais told a Lafayette television reporter, “They poisoned the well.”
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.