April 26, 2010 04:58

In a rare Monday morning meeting of the Lafayette City-Parish Council, members voted unanimously to annex 271 acres in south Lafayette Parish.

In a rare Monday morning meeting of the Lafayette City-Parish Council, members voted unanimously to annex 271 acres in south Lafayette Parish to pull Les Vieux Chenes Golf Course, Fabacher Field and acreage for a future water-storage facility into the corporate bounds of Lafayette. In completing the annexation, the city of Lafayette did an end run, literally and figuratively, around the city of Broussard, which last week purchased a strip of land Lafayette had intended to annex to reach the golf course via the new Ambassador Caffery South extension; the private property included in Monday's annexation ordinance is adjacent to the land Broussard purchased last week to block Lafayette from reaching the golf course.

Clearly concerned that Broussard would attempt to purchase any land Lafayette intended to annex to reach the course, the Durel administration kept its cards close to the vest, publishing the notice for Monday's special meeting in The Sunday Advertiser and sending out electronic notice of the meeting to local media Sunday morning, thereby giving the city of Broussard virtually no time to intervene. Administration officials gave no indication of their alternate annexation plan last week when they announced that they were pulling the original ordinance due to Broussard's land purchase.

The apparent subterfuge by the administration incensed Councilman William Theriot, whose district covers the areas under dispute. Theriot complained that he wasn't privy to any meetings the Durel administration had with land owners in the area. "This is in my district," Theriot said, "I was told there would be meetings - and that's a good thing. ...I got a call from a constituent on this route [who asked], William, why weren't you in these meetings?' I didn't know meetings were taking place." Theriot also complained that District 7 Councilman Don Bertrand, who doesn't represent the area, was present at a meeting with landowners.

City-Parish President Joey Durel countered that only one meeting took place at City Hall with two landowners and that Bertrand, who happened to be meeting with Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley at the time, was a sort of "accidental" attendee. But the clarification did little to allay Theriot's aggravation. "I'm really concerned and disappointed in how this happened," the District 9 representative said.

Only one blue card was submitted for public comment - from Cornell Bodenstiener, a south Lafayette resident who lives northeast of Les Vieux Chenes. "This thing was done in full darkness," Bodensteiner said of the annexation. "This is not the way our government is supposed to work." Bodenstiener used his full five minutes of comment time to give the Durel administration the business. "I'm certainly appalled that the representative of that area was not brought into the circle," he added near the end, calling the timing on Lafayette's notification of the meeting "a big pile of smelly, stinky, 3-day-old crawfish tales and heads."

Monday's action by the CPC doesn't settle the annexation battles in south Lafayette Parish where the Ambassador extension runs through unincorporated land near the boundaries of Lafayette, Broussard and Youngsville; Broussard's city council will consider another round of annexation at its meeting this week, and Youngsville is also working on obtaining land along the corridor, which promises to be a lucrative source of sales tax when it is developed in the coming years.

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