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Families frustrated over fence surrounding graves

4 years 11 months 1 week ago Thursday, August 07 2014 Aug 7, 2014 August 07, 2014 6:56 AM August 07, 2014 in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Ryan Naquin

DONALDSONVILLE - A fence, surrounding part of a graveyard, is at the center of a controversy that is headed to court in Ascension Parish.

Donaldsonville resident Gary Crochet bought land behind his house from the city, which includes ten grave sites. Crochet purchased it because he was afraid the plots would build up behind his home.

Mayor Leroy Sullivan said Crochet promised he would give free access to family members with loved ones buried in the plots but went back on his word.  Wednesday, there was a fence between his land and the cemetery, limiting access to the grave sites.

Now, there is no direct way to get to the grave sites unless visitors walk through Crochet's yard.

"Morally it's not right, legally it's not right and spiritually it's not right," Andre Oatis said.

Oatis' son, nephew and brother are buried in the plots. His family bought the plots from the cemetery.

"That plot is my property, and we are suppose to be given legal access to it," Oatis said. "It's frustrating."

The confusion over the land started because the cemetery thought it owned the land and that's why the plots were sold to Oatis' family and others.  But a church donated the land to the city in 1892 and the city sold it to Crochet for more than $20,000. 

Not all of the property includes graves.  Crochet said he is willing to sell the property with the graves back to the city for $12,000.

The city is suing Crochet to allow access to the grave sites.  Both the Donaldsonville city attorney and Crochet declined an on-camera interview.

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