Livingston parish property battle to be discussed at Thursday council meeting
UPDATE: The Livingston Parish Council voted to postpone any consideration for the ordinance indefinitely, calling it a civil issue. The gate will stay open until the civil suits are settled.
FRENCH SETTLEMENT - There's a quarrel among some landowners in Livingston Parish that's gotten so bad the parish council is getting involved. A gate is blocking access to dozens of properties and landowners are upset. One of them says it's a private road and those upset landowners need to find another way.
Stephanie Fonte has owned property on La Trace Road in French Settlement for 16 years. All that time, she says she's used the same road to get to and from. But in January, she says a gate was installed blocking her access to her land.
"I mean, it really is just malicious intent to keep people from going back there," said Fonte.
For the last five years, Fonte says she's been fighting for access to her property. Following a recent court date, the gate was installed officially blocking her way. It was put there by Wade Holden. He owns property on La Trace Road, too, and says the road is private.
"As far as I'm concerned that's private property right there," said Holden.
La Trace Road was built in phases and the gate blocks access to a certain phase, which encompasses dozens of properties, campsites, and homes. Holden says he put the gate there because of crime in the area. He says there's a solution for everyone else trying to gain access to their land.
"They need to construct them a road and go thru Army Corps, pay the permits and all that stuff," he said.
There's a disagreement over who maintains the road. Whether that's the parish or private landowners.
"I mean, I've owned this property for 16 years and I've driven to it the entire time and it's just been the past couple of years that I've been denied access," said Fonte.
Livingston Parish has hired an engineering firm to take a look and see if the road is in the parish right of way or not. Thursday night, the Livingston Parish council introduced an ordinance trying to put an end to the property dispute. The ordinance would identify the blocked road as a parish road. The council will vote on the ordinance at a later meeting. The next council meeting is April 8.