Proposal to develop 20 North Lake Charles adjudicated properties into homes fails passage at council meeting

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 11:14 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The Lake Charles City Council voted Wednesday on a proposal by the African American Chamber of Commerce to take 20 adjudicated properties and develop them into homes.

The proposal was “An ordinance authorizing the City of Lake Charles to enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the African American Chamber of Commerce (AACCLA) to administer and manage a one-year pilot program that seeks to put back into commerce twenty (20) adjudicated property lots for redevelopment.”

The item was discussed at a council meeting earlier this month, but was deferred to the Sept. 21 meeting.

“This is a pilot program, no risk to the city, none at all. Vote for it so that our community can get 20 properties back to them, we need that,” AACCLC president Fitzgerald Darbonne said.

Emotions were high as many took the stand at the meeting, fighting for a change that could develop growth in the North Lake Charles community. Some backing the AACCLC’s plan to redevelop adjudicated properties into homes, moving in 20 families.

“Here local has come up with something that resonates locally financially. The money is not leaving the area, okay. This is our opportunity to save ourselves,” resident Blaine Celestine said.

“I’m just here to say I hope that we can get our community like the other side of Lake Charles,” resident Lois Booker Malvo said.

One person did take stand in opposition of the proposal.

“We don’t want Lake Charles divided,” resident Theresa Richard said.

Richard explained she didn’t like the idea of allowing one group of people gaining all these properties.

“Adjudicated properties are suppose to be for anybody that want to take a bid,” Richard said. “You got the money, you got the property, that’s your property. I cannot see a property, a bunch of properties going to certain individuals.”

However, as explained in the discourse of the meeting, the 20 properties only make up three percent of all the adjudicated properties in the City of Lake Charles.

“We need a yes so that the community can prosper, can really start coming coming back into - I mean it’s been a struggle, you know a pandemic, two hurricanes, flood. You know, it’s been a lot, you know, it’s been a lot,” Darbonne said.

Ronnie Harvey Jr. voted against the proposal that would have taken place in his district, District A. Councilmembers John Ieyoub, and Craig Marks also voted no.

The final vote had the council split even three to three, causing the item to fail.

Councilmember Mark Eckard was absent from the meeting and therefor did not vote.

“It is definitely one of the many issues that will continue to hold development back in North Lake Charles. Like, we cannot year after year talk about the deficiencies in the community and then look chances and opportunities for development right in the eye and then say no,” AACCLC advisory board member JayVon Muhammad said.