One Lafayette Parish council member calls for truce in boundary battle with Vermilion, but another refuses to back down _lowres


At least one Lafayette City-Parish Councilman wants a truce in the festering feud with Vermilion Parish over the location of the parish line.

Councilman Jared Bellard submitted a proposed ordinance this week to drop city-parish government’s lawsuit seeking to void a 2002 agreement between the parishes on where the boundary should be.

The proposed ordinance, which is up for a vote Dec. 1, comes after the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal last week upheld an earlier ruling favoring the Vermilion Parish Police Jury in a two-year legal battle in the dispute.

“It’s time for us to make amends with the police jury, accept the findings and move on,” Bellard said.

He said city-parish government has already spent more than $53,000 on fees for experts and attorneys and should let the appeals court ruling stand rather than asking the state Supreme Court to review the case.

“We gave it a fair shot,” Bellard said. “We should not spend any more money on it.”

Councilman Don Bertrand, who has been the most vocal councilman in challenging the boundary, said now is not the time to back down.

“I certainly will not support it. The veracity of the survey has still not been addressed by the courts,” he said.

Vermilion Parish was carved out of what was once a much larger Lafayette Parish in 1844, and the boundary between the two parishes has long been a muddled issue.

It came to a legal head in 1999, when former City-Parish Councilman Lenwood Broussard argued that opponent Linda Duhon should not have been allowed to run against him because she lived in Vermilion Parish.

A judge sided with Broussard, ruling that Duhon, who paid taxes and voted in Lafayette Parish, actually lived on the Vermilion side of the line.

Duhon and other border residents countered with an unsuccessful federal lawsuit alleging a political effort to push them out of the parish.

In the aftermath, Vermilion and Lafayette parishes agreed in 2002 to have the State Land Office research the line and to adopt whatever boundary the state agency drew.

Bertrand and others argue the resulting parish line was based on incomplete historical research, and the Lafayette City-Parish Council voted unanimously in 2013 to back out of the 2002 boundary agreement, prompting a lawsuit from Vermilion Parish.

At stake is about 1,000 to 1,200 acres.