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UPDATE: Executive sessions planned over drainage issues

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Posted at 9:05 AM, Mar 31, 2022

Three potential executive sessions are posted on Tuesday's City Council special meeting agenda - all to discuss drainage projects that have drawn legal challenges and controversy to Lafayette.

On the agenda for the meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 5:15 p.m. in the City-Parish Council Auditorium, are potential executive sessions for the lawsuit filed by the Guillory administration, as well as two projects in which property owners say the government violated their property rights and state law to take land for drainage work.

Last week, Mayor President Josh Guillory's administration filed suit against St. Martin Parish and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the ongoing spoil levee issue. At issue is the work of some LCG contractors that happened in St. Martin Parish in February. After months of negotiation with St. Martin Parish and the US Army Corps of Engineers over removal of levees created by spoil dredged from the river more than 50 years ago, Lafayette contractors removed the spoil levees without notifying anyone - indeed, St. Martin officials claim some of the work took place at night.

LCG says the work was necessary to allow water to flow into St. Martin Parish and relieve Lafayette Parish flooding. St. Martin Parish officials say there's no evidence that the work with help Lafayette at all, but could cause damage to St. Martin. They also claim that the proper permits weren't obtained. The Corps currently is investigating the work done to see if any Corps permits were necessary. To see our stories about the situation, click here, here and here.

There are two lawsuits pending against LCG regarding property the Guillory administration wants to use to build detention ponds - and there are similar claims regarding the legitimacy of the process and, in one case, an alleged lack of proof that the project will even improve drainage.

In both cases the work has been halted by the courts.

Earlier this month, a judge halted work on a piece of property that landowners claim is high and dry and not the appropriate location for detention ponds. A hearing over the project was stopped because of an alleged ethical issue involving an LCG contract engineer, and will resume next month. To read about that, click here.

In November, LCG lost a similar court battle when a judge ruled in favor of the landowners. The judge found that LCG did not follow state law in seizing and doing work on the property. LCG is appealing that case. Our media partners at The Acadiana Advocate posted this story about that hearing.