Mall Annexation Suit Goes to Court of Appeal

Mall Annexation Suit Goes to Court of Appeal

Does Section 1.09 of the East Baton Rouge Plan of Government give any citizen of the City of Baton Rouge the right to challenge an illegal annexation by the Metro Council?
That will be the issue when the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal hears an appeal being filed Friday by Capital City News editor Woody Jenkins on whether he or any citizen has the right to contest the purported annexation of portions of the Mall of Louisiana.

Jenkins says the language of Section 1.09 is clear.  It reads, “any citizen of the city or the area proposed to be added thereto may file and appeal therefrom in the District Court in the manner and with the effect provided by law.”

But the City of Baton Rouge and District Judge Janice Clark disagree.  On Monday, Clark ruled that Jenkins and presumably any citizen of the City of Baton Rouge does not have a sufficient “interest” in the outcome of the annexation to justify suing the city.

At Monday’s court hearing, the city’s ad hoc counsel, Mary Olive Pierson spent about three hours with testimony from Police Chief Carl D’Abadie, Fire Chief Ed Smith, and the Mayor-President’s chief administrative officer, William Daniels, trying to establish that providing city services to the Mall area, which receives 15 million visitors a year, would require no additional police or fire personnel and no additional expenditures.

Jenkins contended that was preposterous, and that additional personal would be needed.  He said that would particularly hurt citizens in high crime areas such as North Baton Rouge where he resides by reducing the number of police officers assigned, thus increasing the risk of crime.  He made these claims to counter the city’s argument that he had no “interest” in the annexation.

Jenkins said, “Ultimately, the city’s argument was misplaced because the Plan of Government is clear in giving every citizen the right to challenge an illegal annexation.”  Jenkins has until Friday to file his appeal of Clark’s decision.

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