St. George leaders to keep fighting, BR leaders to keep annexing
BATON ROUGE - After Wednesday's controversial annexation vote, there's a promise from both sides to continue the fight, from what each believes is right: leaders with the City of St. George will continue gathering signatures while Baton Rouge leaders plan to keep annexing properties.
The Metro Council approved extending the city limits to include the Mall of Louisiana, Our Lady of the Lake and Baton Rouge General Hospital. The vote was 9 to 3.
Councilman Buddy Amoroso, Chandler Loupe and Ryan Heck were the dissenting votes. All other members voted in favor of the annexation.
At first, thinking annexing those properties would void the petition, St. George supporters said the move does nothing to their on-going efforts.
"Over the last several days and over the last several weeks, we've been meeting with legal counsel and constitutional lawyers and we believe that this will not invalidate the petition effort," St. George Incorporation spokesperson Lionel Rainey said. "We're going to move forward gathering the remaining signatures."
But while the one side is collecting signatures, the other side is looking to annex even more into Baton Rouge.
"My thought and my goal is that as Baton Rouge becomes a bigger grander city that our blue print our footprint expands," Councilwoman Tara Wicker said.
Monday, St. George Fire Department Chief Gerard C. Tarleton accused Baton Rouge of approaching businesses owners to annex into the city. The mayor denies any such moves.
"I'm not recruiting to locate into the City of Baton Rouge. Frankly, as I stated before, I'll be bringing another business into St. George," Holden said.
The side pushing for incorporation feels, in the end, the issue won't be decided by the people but by the court system.
"If we submit the signatures and they are validated to the required amount we have, it will probably be settled where it was always going to be end up settled anyways; that is somewhere in the courthouse," St. George Incorporation leader Dustin Yates said.
"I hope that the City of Baton Rouge does not file a lawsuit to prevent democracy from happening and prevent this from going to a vote," Rainey said.
At this time, there is no word of Baton Rouge leaders planning to file a lawsuit to stop the incorporation effort.