A bill allowing Lafayette consolidated government to take private land for infrastructure projects is advancing through the legislature.
That bill cleared the Senate and is awaiting House action. It would amend a law passed to speed up the Kaliste Saloom Widening Project.
If approved the bill would allow LCG to claim land for drainage projects, and to fix roads and bridges in the parish.
State Senator Page Cortez says Lafayette needs this bill to fast-track drainage projects and to take land for those projects.
"All this is is because they’re going to have so many different projects. The last thing you want is for the money to be here, and not be able to get the projects done only to have another flood come and disrupt the public again," explained Cortez.
The amendment will allow LCG to expropriate the property of a landowner more quickly, and gain the access they need to begin working on a drainage project sooner, as to prevent the possibility of flood damage on other properties downstream.
The bill doesn’t sit well with some, including Kolleen Verlander. LCG claimed part of her land for a traffic circle, which she says has devalued her property
"Land grabbing is exactly what it is! They haven’t used the property. They own it now, but they haven’t used it," said Verlander
While property owners would be able to sue over a land claim, under this bill, a lawsuit wouldn’t stop the project.
"Expedited expropriation is the government makes an offer for the property. They (the landowner) can object to it. The government gives them what they believe to be the fair market value. The landowner can sue the government but the project goes forward," explained Senator Cortez