DONALDSONVILLE — City Council members voted Tuesday to settle a legal dispute with a local landowner over access to graves near a local cemetery, pending legal review.
The issue stems from a February sale of the 198-foot-by-62-foot property along St. Patrick Street by the city to local resident Gary Crochet. Part of the property, which abuts a Protestant cemetery, includes 13 graves.
Since buying the land, Crochet erected a fence to separate his property, including the 13 graves, from the cemetery. This led to pleas from residents for access to the grave sites, so they could visit loved ones buried there.
In the proposed settlement, Crochet said he would allow public access to the cemetery if the city would erect a fence around the graves. He also asked that he be able to resubdivide the property, so he could donate the land holding the graves back to the cemetery.
Council members questioned if they had a legal right to build the fence on private property, but City Attorney Chuck Long described the proposal as a “legitimate settlement.”
The council voted to agree to Crochet’s terms, pending documentation from Long that there are no legal issues with the proposed deal.
Also on Tuesday, the council welcomed the new commanding officer of the Ascension Parish Sheriff Office’s West Bank Division: Capt. Rick Bergeron will assume command for the retiring Capt. Dean Werner, who led the division for 10 of his 31 years on the force.
“He’s a proven leader,” Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Chief Criminal Deputy Tony Bacala said of Bergeron. “When I spoke to the deputies, his was the only name they mentioned for the job.”
The council also voted to cancel the regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 23, but will hold a special meeting Dec. 29 to address liquor license renewals prior to the end of the year.