Lafayette Consolidated Government is facing potential legal action from St. Martin Parish after a St. Martin Parish council meeting Tuesday afternoon.
This comes after LCG recently removed spoil banks along the Vermilion River in St. Martin Parish — leaving questions up for debate, like:
- Did LCG have the authority to do so?
- Will this help or hurt St. Martin Parish?
KATC received a statement from Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory late Tuesday night. He holds his ground that the work LCG did will help both parishes and cause no harm. It reads as follows:
"I am excited that we were able to help both parishes in the region with this spoil bank removal project. Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that the St. Martin Parish Council has given authorization to take legal action related to this matter. In order to successfully sue for damages in a plaintiff’s case, you must show that there was harm created. I trust the significant engineering that has gone into this project. The current modeling of the spoil bank removal project shows that there is no threat of harm to St. Martin Parish. I trust that my fellow elected officials in St. Martin Parish want for their constituents the same thing that I want for mine, which is to do all we can to protect life and property. I also trust in the science and all of the engineers who have spent years analyzing the benefits of restoring the natural hydraulic flow in this area. I look forward to continuing our work with all of our neighbors, including St. Martin Parish, to combat flooding on a regional scale. This is a great day for our region." — Josh Guillory, Mayor-President, Lafayette Consolidated Government
However, with a potential flood threat at stake, many in St. Martin Parish are concerned — leading to a packed house at Tuesday's council meeting where a unanimous vote took place, allowing parish president Chester Cedars to file suit.
"Our ways and means is to velar ourselves of every possible legal remedy allowed by law to remediate and to address the situation, and we will do that," Cedars told KATC after the meeting.
Tracy Pierre lives in St. Martinville — in the Cypress Island community.
It's the area that could be affected by the changes to the spoil banks, and a region already no stranger to flooding.
"it's very horrible, I mean, we don't know what to do from here," Pierre said. "My brother, he was living in a trailer park and there was, it was water up to his knees whenever he was coming out. He went to bed, it was no water and he woke up — water up to his knees."
The Army Corps of Engineers is investigating LCG's work.
We asked Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory if a permit was necessary and whether or not LCG had one.
"Yeah, no it wasn't necessary that was our — for Army Corps of Engineers did not require a permit for this," Guillory said. "And I'll let the wonderful many many assistant city-parish attorneys who researched it and of course, our engineers who wouldn't do anything stamp off on anything that would hurt people, but again, this is, look, this is a huge opportunity."
But Cedars disagrees. While courts may have to decide if anything done was wrong, he said what happened showed a lack of cooperation in what is supposed to be a regional effort to fight flooding.
"Lafayette Consolidated Government needed a permit from St. Martin Parish, this work was done in our parish, we have a flood plain ordinance that required a permit," Cedars said. "It affects the people I'm sworn to protect, that's the alpha and omega of all of it."
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