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Metro Council defers annexation of Willow Ridge homes from St. George into Baton Rouge

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BATON ROUGE – It will now be a month before the East Baton Rouge Metro Council decides whether about a dozen homeowners can annex into the city limits of Baton Rouge from what would become the city of Saint George.

With just 40 homes on two short streets, its the Willow Ridge subdivision that’s now at a crossroad(s). 14 homeowners want to be a part of Baton Rouge, while 26 other homeowners do not.

"It's my understanding this is the first residential (area) to apply for annexation. And the first one where one house on one side is one city, one house on the other side is another city,” Keith Richardson, the neighborhood’s HOA president, said.

Richardson says he speaks for the majority of the neighborhood. Among the concerns for him and his neighbors is how public services, like trash pick-up and fire and police, will work with some houses in Baton Rouge and the rest in St. George.

He also says that the annexation petition was not brought to the HOA's attention, which conflicts with its current bylaws.

"As far as paving the streets, as far as 911 and all of that's concerned. We would like to be united in just one,” Richardson said.

The former neighborhood HOA president, Bill Benedetto, is on the other side of the street and says they’ve addressed those concerns.

"Most, if not all of the parish services, are in East Baton Rouge Parish. We have a consolidated plan of government, and all of these services come under the parish,” Benedetto said.

Benedetto has spearheaded the effort among homeowners who want to stay out of St. George.

“We really don't want to be required to live in the city that's not of our choice. And so this is why we decided to do this,” he said.

Right now, Willow Ridge is an unincorporated area in East Baton Rouge, snuggled just west of Bluebonnet and north of Jefferson Hwy. A total of seven houses touching the city limits of Baton Rouge have requested annexation. On the other side of the street along the lake, seven other homeowners also asked to be annexed into Baton Rouge since the lake their properties touch are tied to the city’s drainage system.

“Now this affects only people who want to annex into Baton Rouge. It doesn't affect anybody who wants to be in the city of st. George,” Benedetto clarified.

Wednesday night, some council members expressed concerns about the proposed checkerboard annexation plan. A majority of members voted to defer the four agenda items related to the annexation efforts until the Oct. 26 meeting.

“Breaking up a subdivision like this is got to be probably one of the worst ideas I've ever seen. Now, whether it's legal, whether it's not, who has the rights to bring it on part of the juridical entity that is one of the comments that came up. I can't tell you about that,” Councilman Trae Welch said.

The lawsuit between Baton Rouge and St. George is currently in the discovery phase. However, the pandemic has pushed back the case until at least next year.


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