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Apr 6, 2012 11:11 AM by AP

St. James Parish hearing set on expropriation

CONVENT, La. (AP) - St. James Parish Council members have set a public hearing for May 2 on a proposed ordinance to expropriate 13 acres of land near the Convent courthouse as a site for building a community center and emergency supplies warehouse.

The Advocate reports Parish President Timmy Roussel said during Wednesday's meeting that parish officials and the property's landowners had agreed on an appraised value for the property.

However, the title insurance company requested the parish government use expropriation procedures to obtain the property due to the large number of possible heirs involved in the process, Roussel said.

"There's a whole bunch of heirs," attorney Sid Marchand told the council. "We've identified maybe 50 in one tract and 40 in the other tract."

The undeveloped tracts have remained in the same family since 1897, Marchand said.

Some heirs have moved away with no trace, but the expropriation process would allow the parish to attempt to find as many of them as possible, Marchand said.

Once the land is transferred to the parish, former heirs would eventually come to court to prove their ownership and receive payment, he said.

The land is located across the street from the St. James Parish Courthouse, Roussel said. Plans call for a multipurpose building to be built there to be used as a community center and a senior citizens center.

A second building to store emergency hurricane equipment also will be constructed on the site, Roussel said.

One tract of land was appraised at between $80,000 and $110,000 and the other, smaller tract was appraised at $22,000, Marchand said.

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