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Annexation lawsuit goes before First Circuit Court of Appeal

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BATON ROUGE- A three judge panel at the First Circuit Court of Appeal listened to arguments today involving a high profile lawsuit involving recent annexations into the City of Baton Rouge.

Former State Representative Woody Jenkins sued after the city annexed parts of the Mall of Louisiana and some properties nearby last year. State District Judge Janice Clark ruled Jenkins did not have an actual interest in the case since he did not live or own property in the area. The area in question is in the proposed City of St. George, which is one of the main issues the judges will have to take up to determine whether or not Jenkins can sue.

"Any citizen has the right to challenge an illegal annexation," Jenkins said after court. "I'm a citizen of Baton Rouge so I believe I have that right."

In court, the judges asked questions about money and whether Jenkins had an interest in the case and more. In court, concerns about crime were raised since more patrols would be needed at the mall. One of the Judge's asked if the city could hire more people since the mall is now annexed into the city, giving the city more revenue. Jenkins said after court, there is no extra money.

"Right now, all of the money for the mall goes into the city-parish coffers," Jenkins said. "When you annex the mall, it really doesn't change that. What if there were a St. George, maybe it would affect it then, but there's not a St. George. That's just a proposal, and this court doesn't have anything about St. George before it so it can't consider that."

Attorney Mary Olive Pierson is representing the city-parish. She believes Judge Clark's ruling should be upheld. She claims only the railroad near the area and DSLD has the authority to question the annexation since those are the properties and owners most affected.

"Judge Guidry got down to one of the issues: what's wrong with annexing the mall," Pierson said. "What's wrong with getting the dollars to the city and not have them potentially diverted to St. George? If that ever comes to be, which I doubt."

Supporters of St. George have said in the past, the annexations are an attempt to stop the incorporation effort from going forward. Jenkins says his issue has nothing to do with St. George.

The three judge panel could take a month to render a decision. If the decision is to uphold the lower court's decision, Jenkins said he will take it up to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

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