LIVINGSTON — A group of residents and landowners just west of Livingston decided they would rather have their properties annexed into the town than possibly incorporated as part of Satsuma in March.
The Livingston Board of Aldermen voted 3-0 on Thursday night to approve the annexation, which brings into the town 56 registered voters and several prominent businesses including Henderson Auctions and V. Watts furniture store.
What effect the annexation will have on the Satsuma incorporation proposal headed to voters March 28 — or on the lawsuit filed Wednesday to stop that election — is unclear. The area annexed Thursday lies within the boundaries of the proposed town of Satsuma.
Resident Buck Grantham, who helped gather the signatures of more than three dozen of his neighbors between U.S. 190 and Grantham Road in support of annexation, said he “really didn’t want to be in town, period.”
Grantham said he thought he and his neighbors could defeat the Satsuma incorporation at the polls, but he was concerned that if the measure passed, he would be “stuck in Satsuma.” If he was going to be in town, he wanted to be in Livingston, where he had lived for 65 years, he said.
Livingston Mayor Derral Jones said Grantham’s sentiments echoed those of other residents who had contacted him about possibly annexing their properties into the town.
“They didn’t really want to be in any municipality, but if they had to be in one, they would rather be in Livingston,” Jones said.
The mayor stressed that the city’s staff did not solicit signatures for the annexation petition.
A hearing is set for Monday in 21st Judicial District Court on the lawsuit challenging the Satsuma incorporation effort.
Jeffrey Henderson, on behalf of J3 Investments LLC, along with Jeffrey and Tracy Holtgren Tamborrino and Kerri McDonald, claim in the lawsuit that the proposed town would include an unreasonably large area of vacant land far removed from where Satsuma residents live and that the town would not be able to provide the required public services. They also claim Satsuma organizers fraudulently coerced people to sign the petition to incorporate.
The lawsuit requests a restraining order and injunction preventing the issue from going on the ballot. The case has been assigned to Judge Brenda Ricks, who will take up the matter Monday.
Save Satsuma organizers Harvey L. Arledge and Edmond Arledge, the group petitioning to incorporate Satsuma, did not return calls seeking comment.
Harvey L. Arledge has said the proposed town limits for Satsuma were drawn to include vacant land south of I-12 where parish government proposes to locate a general aviation airport. He said including that property within the town limits would give community residents a voice in whether and how the land is developed.
Garry Lewis, a developer who owns about 2,000 acres within the proposed town limits, including the land where the airport would be located, has said the incorporation effort is nothing more than a land grab.
Livingston aldermen Wade Wilson and Randy Morgan were absent from Thursday’s special meeting.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen. Contact her by phone at (225) 336-6981.