The residents suing their elected officials will press their case before state District Judge Wilson Fields at the Aug. 19 hearing that the city’s proposed development goes against city ordinances and affects them. Mark David Freneaux, Michael Mannino and Michael Stephens filed the lawsuit late Monday against Central Mayor Jr. Shelton and City Council members Christopher Shane Evans, Kim Fralick, John Vance and Wayne Messina.
On Wednesday, Fields set the hearing for 9 a.m. Aug. 19 at the 19th Judicial District Courthouse.
The proposed Settlement on Shoe Creek development would occupy 150 acres off Sullivan Road across from the Wal-Mart Supercenter. It has gained many opponents during the past several months and more than 40 people spoke against the development at a late July City Council meeting before the council approved it.
The lawsuit alleges that the traditional neighborhood development, expected to bring 700 housing units to Central, violates the city’s zoning ordinances. Using Central’s “net density calculator,” the lawsuit claims the development’s 250 apartment units are more than six times as many as should be allowed.
Shelton’s plan to use a third-party private contractor to extend a private street for the development is also called into question in the suit. It says Shelton does not have the authority to contract with a third party or to change the designation of a street from private to public.
Shelton and Central’s counsel Jennifer Sims have denied any wrongdoing. They have also pointed out that Freneaux ran against Shelton in Central’s mayoral election and lost.
“We have and will indeed always uphold the laws of not only the United States and Louisiana but also the ordinances of the city of Central,” Shelton said to the city council on Tuesday. He called the lawsuit’s accusations unfounded, unproven and unsubstantiated.
Seth Dornier, the attorney for the plaintiffs, did not immediately return messages Wednesday.