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Land dispute in Livingston heads to court

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Posted: Jun 15, 2012 10:47 PM by Ashley Rodrigue
Source: WBRZ

  Rating: 5.0 (1 vote)

Topics: land, section 16, property, homeowners, Livingston Parish, school district

BATON ROUGE- A land dispute dating back decades is finally headed to court in Livingston Parish.

The school board wants a judge to decide if it still owns land near French Settlement or if the 30 people who live there do.

School leaders are gearing up by contending the land given to them by the federal government was sold without permission and it's kept them from cashing in on lumber and gas royalties.

But the homeowners argue the board is looking for a resolution too late, in the wrong place and in the wrong way.

"I would think that everyone involved is probably very ready to bring this to a head and get a decision from the court," said Glen Petersen, who's representing the Livingston Parish School Board.

Homeowner Bernard Gourgues said, "We feel like it's gonna bring closure because its been going on for two or three years now, we've been fighting the anticipation of what's going to come."

And what's in these documents will start the process of that closure for everyone wrapped up in the 145-acre property in Livingston Parish known as Section16 land.

"This thing is going back to 1835, we're bringing a lot of information to the courts," said Gourgues.

Including records of sale for every homeowner, and reasons why those sales are solid still today. But the school district says more records were lost in a courthouse fire ages ago, and at this point, a judge should be the deciding factor on who this land belongs to.

"The board at this point has not asked for anything other than just a determination of ownership, maybe once that's decided, and if it is decided in favor of the board then the board is going to surely try to figure out a workable solution for everybody involved," said Petersen.

Both sides will meet for the first hearing in the case on Monday. Attorneys expect the main hearing to be scheduled soon after that. There's no telling when a decision could be made.

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