A judge declined to toss out a lawsuit Monday challenging Youngsville’s annexation of frontage along the new section of Ambassador Caffery Parkway in southern Lafayette Parish.
The legal dispute is over Youngsville’s annexation last year of 57 acres along Ambassador Caffery near Bonin Road, an area that could be a good source of sales tax revenue if commercial development picks up along the new four-lane.
The neighboring city of Broussard wanted some of the same property and — along with landowners in the area who opposed the annexation — filed a lawsuit to block Youngsville’s move.
The annexation tussle comes as Youngsville, Broussard and Lafayette have all taken more interest recently in annexing the unincorporated areas in southern Lafayette Parish.
Much of the attention has been along the new southern portion of Ambassador Caffery, and Broussard also has a lawsuit pending against Lafayette for a separate contested annexation along the road.
At issue at the court hearing on Monday was Youngsville’s request to cut short the court challenge to its annexation by having the judge toss the case before trial.
Fifteenth Judicial District Judge John Trahan declined, ruling that a legal dispute over a technical aspect of the annexation needs to be resolved at a full-blown trial.
The state’s annexation laws generally allow cities to annex areas even if some of the property owners in that area object, as long as a city secures approval from the majority of registered voters and the majority of property owners who live in the area to be annexed.
In the Youngsville case, the lawsuit is being brought by a company that owns land in the area and that had an interest in joining the city of Broussard instead.
Youngsville has argued that the support of that company was not needed because the city secured the approval of the majority of registered voters and the one resident in the area who was believed to own property, an elderly woman whose approval was given by a representative empowered to act on her behalf.
What complicated the case Monday was information that the elderly woman might actually live in another parish and has not resided on the annexed property for several years.
Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator said city officials had relied on information from the parish tax assessor in determining what property owners lived in the area.
“We followed the statute of the law to a ‘T,’ ” Viator said.
He said that even if there is a dispute about the resident property owner, Youngsville still secured the signatures of the majority of voters in the area.
The mayor also said that Youngsville has the money to extend water and sewer service to the area if the annexation survives the court challenge.
Attorney Allan Durand, who is representing Broussard and the landowners opposing Youngsville’s annexation, said that the land owned by the annexation opponents accounts for 80 percent of the Ambassador Caffery frontage and that the owners had already asked to be annexed by Broussard.