So-Laf ‘Sooner' rush under way

by Walter Pierce

Competing priorities between the cities of Youngsville and Broussard will likely come into sharp focus this week.

Competing priorities between the cities of Youngsville and Broussard will likely come into sharp focus this week as both cities vie for real estate along the newly completed Ambassador Caffery Parkway extension that cuts through a roughly 3-mile swath of unincorporated south Lafayette Parish.

The Broussard City Council will vote tonight on two annexations along Ambassador. One of them - near Bonin Road - could precipitate a legal dispute between Broussard and Youngsville; the latter also plans to annex a roughly mile-long strip on the south side of Ambassador from Bonin Road to the Youngsville Highway, but will not vote on the annexation until Wednesday - a day after Broussard's council votes. But Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator says he already has signed petitions from land owners and registered voters along the proposed annexation route certified with parish authorities.

"I have all my proper paperwork, all the petitions have been signed, everything's been certified by [Assessor] Conrad Comeaux and also the voter registrar. So I have both my certifications, so that's why I'm moving forward," Viator says. According to state law, a municipality must obtain the consent of both a majority (50 percent plus 1) of registered voters and resident property owners plus an additional 25 percent in the assessed value of the property proposed for annexation before an area can be incorporated.

The Ambassador South extension from Verot School Road to U.S. 90 is expected to become a lucrative source of sales tax revenue as business development takes root along the roadway in coming years. "That's exactly why I'm strongly recommending to the council that we annex," adds Viator, "and that's why I'm going to the trouble of doing what I've done and getting it certified and I'm ready for final adoption."

Aware that Broussard's council agenda is devoted to an annexation of parts of Ambassador South, Viator tried to convene a special meeting of the Youngsville City Council for Tuesday. However, three of the five members of the council cited prior commitments. Consequently, the council won't have a quorum and cannot take action until a special meeting on Wednesday. "They've all agreed to be there Wednesday," Viator says, adding that he's "cautiously optimistic" he'll get council support for the Ambassador annexation. However, the city of Broussard may already have claimed some of that land, and it's unclear - state law is complicated and murky on competing annexations - how it will play out after the Youngsville vote, assuming both cities plant stakes in the same acreage.

The city of Lafayette, meanwhile, is working on its own plans to annex land in an area where the three municipalities are growing into one another. In a special meeting Monday the Lafayette City-Parish Council voted unanimously to annex more than 270 acres near the Ambassador/Youngsville Highway intersection comprising the city-owned and -operated Les Vieux Chenes Golf Course, Fabacher Field and the site of a future water storage facility. But hundreds of acres in the area, including along Ambassador, remain up for grabs, and the city of Lafayette is intent on getting its share.

"There are more annexations to come," says Frank Thibeaux, annexation coordinator for LCG's Planning, Zoning & Codes Department. "We'll be working on that for the next six to nine months."

Thibeaux adds that Lafayette officials have been in contact with landowners in that part of the parish, many of whom have expressed an interest in being annexed into the city. "I suspect we'll be bringing several [annexations] to the council in the coming months," he says.