CLINTON — A man who says he wants to provide housing for poor people on his land in the Ethel area claimed Monday that East Feliciana Parish police jurors and Planning and Zoning Commission members are guilty of racial discrimination for refusing to approve his subdivision plans.
George Turner and West Feliciana developer Lula London, both of whom are black, said Turner has been treated unfairly in his efforts to approve the division of about 10 acres of land at the intersection of Felix Lee and Turner roads.
Turner said a small group opposes him "every time I try to bring affordable housing to this parish."
"I can tell when other people are trying to discriminate against me by using sly words," Turner said at another point in the lengthy discussion, which ended with the jury taking no action on his request for approval of the subdivision.
Juror Ed Brooks, who also is black, told Turner his first mistake was making the subdivision a racial issue, while Planning and Zoning Commission member Larry Thomas said Turner began the pattern of harassment to which Turner claims he is a victim.
"Harassment was when Mr. Turner stood up and called all the (commission) members racists," said Thomas, who is white. "Everybody on that commission has bent over double to help Mr. Turner."
Commission Chairman Ronnie McMorris, who is white, also said Turner is trying to "make an end-run to avoid a zoning change," which McMorris said would be required in order for Turner to create a number of small lots on the acreage.
Thomas said Turner's problems stem from presenting a plat that his surveyor admitted was not done from a field survey and the fact that a boundary dispute with adjacent landowners may preclude him from dividing the property into as many lots as he is proposing.
Turner's land may be 20 feet short of abutting Turner Lane, which would mean he lacks the necessary road frontage for more than four lots, Thomas said.
District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla advised Turner to get a proper survey of the property to clear up any lingering issues with the commission.
Turner and London are involved in a federal lawsuit against the white members of the jury, state and federal officials, and the town of Clinton, claiming they discriminated against black Clinton residents in getting aid to them after the August 2016 flood.
Jurors also told Turner they plan to revisit action that jurors took in November 2008 regarding Turner's People's Workshop. Turner contends the jury made his organization the parish's housing authority, but some jurors are questioning his interpretation of the jury's action.