ST. FRANCISVILLE — The West Feliciana Parish Council agreed to hold a public meeting on Dec. 14 to discuss and possibly decide to begin expropriation efforts for a controversial piece of riverfront property along the Mississippi.
Councilwoman Lea Williams introduced the ordinance Monday that would amend this year’s parish budget to make funds available to expropriate land along the riverfront.
During a sometimes rambling and confusing presentation during the Parish Council meeting, Williams outlined why she believes the parish should expropriate the land. However, she did not make clear what land she is seeking, nor was she clear on why she believes there is a compelling reason for the parish to expropriate the land.
Councilman Mel Percy offered a substitute motion to block the December public hearing, but his attempt failed for lack of a second.
The Parish Council has appealed a ruling by Judge Betsy Jones in 20th Judicial District Court that the heirs of Paul A. Lambert Sr. and the Lambert Gravel Company possess much of the land Williams discussed during her presentation.
Neither Jones’ ruling, nor any of the legal wrangling between the Lamberts and the parish, has resolved the central issue of ownership of the property.
During the council meeting, Parish President Kevin Couhig said his office has received bills for $13,000 more than the $720,000 the council allocated for the lawsuit and its appeal. He vowed he will prevent any attempt by the council to allocate more funds for the matter.
“This is a complete and utter waste of $700,000,” Couhig said, “and I will veto any authorized funds.” He said he told the attorneys representing the council if they continue to spend money, it’s at their own risk.
Williams said she knows an attorney who is willing to represent the parish for free, but Couhig replied he had never received a written proposal from that attorney.
Supporting the public hearing on the expropriation were Williams, Melvin Young, John Kean, Otis Wilson and Heather Howle, with Percy voting against.
Ricky Lambert was absent.