Viator: Plans on hold due to lawsuit

by Walter Pierce

Youngsville's mayor has big plans for the Ambassador South extension - plans that are tied up by a lawsuit challenging his city's annexation along the corridor.

Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator says that while he's disappointed in a Third Circuit Court of Appeal ruling upholding a private company's standing as a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Youngsville's annexation of more than 50 acres along the new Ambassador Caffery extension, he's reasonably confident his city will prevail when the case goes to trail. And the mayor, who won reelection last weekend, says he hopes the case will proceed to trial quickly so Youngsville can begin preparing the annexed land for its future as a sales tax-generating commercial corridor, as well as proceed with more land acquisitions.

"I'm going to push the issue to get it done as quickly as possible," Viator says. "It's holding up other annexations that I want to do in the area, and it's holding up plans to bring in services to these areas that are new annexed areas; I can't do any planning until this is settled."

The suit attempting to block the annexation was filed by Bridges-Carpenter Properties, a limited liability company that owns some of the land annexed by Youngsville; the neighboring city of Broussard also signed onto the suit. Last summer, District Judge John Trahan ruled that Bridges-Carpenter had standing to challenge the annexation. Youngsville appeal to the Third Circuit, arguing that only individuals can file suits against annexations, but the appeals court disagreed, sending the suit back to the 15th Judical District in Lafayette for trial.

According to the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court's Office, no trail date in Bridges-Carpenter, LLC versus City of Youngsville has been set.

In an email, George Knox, attorney for Youngsville, says he believes the city will prevail at trial:

The city of Youngsville is confident that when this matter proceeds to trial in front of Judge Trahan, he will ultimately determine that the City of Youngsville was 100 percent in compliance with the annexation statute when it annexed this strip of land along Ambassador Caffery Extension, and that we, in fact, obtained the written assent of a majority of the registered voters and a majority of the resident property owners, as well as 25 percent in value of the resident property owners as evidenced by the certificates which the city of Youngsville obtained from the Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor's Office and the Registrar Of Voter's Office. All of this was done by the city of Youngsville in accordance with the provisions of the annexation statute found in La. R.S. 33:172.