Contractor blames city-parish for authorizing work on private property
BATON ROUGE - A contractor with 45 years of experience said he has emails from the city-parish to back up work that was recently performed on private property. That work was not authorized by the homeowner and is not listed as servitude under the city-parish's maps.
Contractor Brent Bergeron admitted to digging the large ditch that measures approximately 200 feet long, 30 feet wide and 25 feet deep. The ditch slices John Raby's five-acre property off Staring Lane in half.
"It's concerning a lot," Raby said. "You can't rest at night. It makes you nervous because someone is taking your land that you worked for all your days."
In September, Raby thought the contractor had made a mistake or it was some type of sick joke.
"They were playing a game with me," Raby said.
It was no game. In fact, Bergeron told WBRZ he would be extremely upset if a contractor came and did that to his property. But, he says he had orders from the city-parish.
"I don't go on someone else's property without permission," Bergeron said. "For me to go across someone's property and dig a ditch, I wanted someone to send me an email confirmation that we are supposed to do this. And I did get that from Shannon Dupont."
In the email shared with the WBRZ Investigative Unit, Shannon Dupont, an engineer with the city-parish wrote, "The culvert definitely needs to be removed and the channel restored to drain properly. Permission is certainly granted to do so."
As Raby gets ready to weight out his legal options, he wants attention brought to this matter so it doesn't happen again.
"If he gets away with it, they'll do it to someone else," Raby said.
Initially the city-parish told WBRZ in a phone call in November it did not authorize the work on private property. However, in a statement today, the city-parish did not confirm that.
The statement provided said: "We are continuing to conduct research to document ownership and appropriate use of the drainage at this location. We will continue working with the property owner as well as the developer to come to an amicable solution."