Tit for tat: LCG challenges legality of Broussard annexation

by Walter Pierce

Lafayette says Broussard's annexation is illegal and unreasonable.

The city of Lafayette Friday filed a judicial challenge against Broussard's Monday annexation of a 50' x 50' square of land in south Lafayette Parish, accusing Broussard of failing to adhere to state public notice laws, of annexing outside of its incorporated limits and of being "unreasonable" in its justification for the annexation.

Following is the press release issued late Friday by Lafayette announcing the challenge: The City of Lafayette today filed a judicial demand against the City of Broussard to invalidate a recent annexation ordinance of the Broussard City Council. Broussard's ordinance attempted to annex into the municipal limits of the City of Broussard a parcel of land measuring in dimension fifty feet by fifty feet which is not contiguous to the existing territorial limits of the City of Broussard. The challenged ordinance was adopted by the Broussard City Council at a special meeting held on Memorial Day, May 31, 2010.

On May 25, 2010, Broussard filed a suit against the City of Lafayette challenging an ordinance adopted by the Lafayette City-Parish Council which annexed the city-owned golf course (Vieux Chenes) and other city-owned property (Fabacher Park) into the City of Lafayette. In that challenge, Broussard contended that certain legal publications had not been accomplished as required by law. Lafayette's position was that its original publication was fully in accord with applicable law. However, rather than fight a lengthy, expensive legal battle, it was deemed both prudent and cost-effective to merely repeal the original ordinance and re-adopt a separate ordinance annexing these properties. That new ordinance annexing the city owned Vieux Chenes Golf Course and Fabacher Park was adopted by the Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday, June 1, 2010.

In Lafayette's judicial demand challenging the recent annexation by Broussard, it is asserted that the annexation ordinance was adopted on a date which is earlier than allowed by Louisiana law. Louisiana law clearly states that, "No ordinance enlarging the boundaries of the municipality shall be adopted until ten days after the publication of the notice." In this case, the publication was had on May 21st such that June 1st is the first legal day when the annexation could have been lawfully adopted. Adopting an ordinance on May 31 (a legal holiday), after a publication on May 21, does not satisfy applicable law which explicitly requires ten full days to pass after publication.

Additionally, the challenge contends that the purported annexation is unreasonable. Among other reasons, the challenge points out that the property purported to be annexed by Broussard is separated from the existing municipal boundaries of Broussard by over a half mile. The stated reason to annex the non-contiguous parcel of land is to install a sewer lift station, but Broussard has no existing sewer facilities in the vicinity of such parcel of land, and moreover, has no legal right to extend services of that type outside of its municipal boundaries.