Property needed to move forward on bond projects

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -  For every bond project underway - there's another waiting to get started. But in some cases the City of Lake Charles has run into problems with right of way ownership.

"Under current law as it exists today, the City of Lake Charles has to wait until that court decision is over before we can actually get a title to that property and go do the work. That has contributed to part of our delays in getting some of our projects done," explained Mayor Randy Roach.

However state law allows the parish to expropriate right-of-way - it's referred to as a "quick take." By entering into an agreement with the parish the city aims to save time and money, allowing them access to the roadway, water, sewer and utilities.

"In a quick take - we pay what our appraiser says we owe and the property owner can take us to court to get more, but the issue in court is how much do we pay them," said Roach.

City attorney Billy Loftin says the process was used for property near Prien Lake Road and Lake Street.

"The next one is a couple of properties on the Enterprise Blvd. Project," said Loftin.

There are also several properties off Fitzenreiter Road near the much anticipated Riverside Park Project.

"And just to clarify - the only time you can exercise that authority is for public use anyway - there is no buy of property for commercial development," questioned Councilman Marshall Simien.

"That's right. For use of utilities," said Roach.

The parish says it will consider each property on a case by case basis. With some work on some of these projects coming up within the next 30 to 60 days, the council unanimously decided to move forward approving to enter an ordinance with the parish.

Once the property owners receive the notice, they have 20 days to take action and file a claim that the property is not for any applicable use. Meanwhile, the city is requesting the state legislature amend the ordinance allowing the city to have their own "quick take" authority.

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