Ordinance would drop border dispute

by Walter Pierce

An introductory ordinance before the City-Parish Council Tuesday would end Lafayette Parish’s bid to redraw the boundary line between Lafayette and Vermilion parishes. The ordinance to cease further appeals in the case was submitted by Councilman Jared Bellard, who cited the cost of appealing to the state Supreme Court.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal on Nov. 3 sided with Vermilion Parish in the dispute over a portion of its northern boundary line with Lafayette Parish. The Lafayette council in 2014 approved an ordinance ordering a redrawing of the boundary based on new information provided by Lafayette Councilman Don Bertrand. The two sides had agreed on the current boundary line in 2003.

The Vermilion Parish Police Jury resisted Lafayette’s 2014 demand that the boundary be moved, which would have slightly expanded the geographic footprint of Lafayette at the expense of Vermilion. Lafayette filed suit and District Judge John Trahan sided with Vermilion. Lafayette appealed to the 3rd Circuit and, within hours of the ruling against Lafayette being released, Bertrand vowed to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Councilman Don Bertrand

“The courts to date are still ruling on [the 2003 deal] between the two parishes,” he told The IND on Nov. 3. “They have never ruled on Louisiana state law for determining a political boundary and the complete inadequacy of the Bernard survey presented to both parishes by Vermilion Parish. My hope is that the Supreme Court will look past ‘the deal’ and to state law and the best evidence presented from the time of the legislative act [in the 1830s] and the surveys by the General Land Office.”

It’s unclear whether Tuesday’s ordinance ending further legal action will be voted on separately or, as is typically the custom, as part of a batch of introductory ordinances. If the latter case holds true the ordinance would advance to a final vote in two weeks. Either way, Bertrand tells us, he believes he has at least the five votes necessary to defeat the ordinance.

“Lafayette wouldn’t have [LUS Fiber] if we hadn’t gone to the Supreme Court,” he says.

[Worth noting: More than one source close to the council sees Bellard's ordinance as payback against Bertrand for supporting Bellard's opponent in the Oct. 24 election.]