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Spat over new sign leaves it in the dark

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NEW ROADS - The owner of a quarter million dollar sign that was just finished being constructed in New Roads has sued the city after the work was completed.

The lawsuit states New Roads Mayor Robert Myer denied the electrical permit to turn on the electricity.

However, the owner of the sign said he already had a building and electrical permit secured before construction even began.

Attorney Jerry D'Aquila is representing the owner of the sign.

"That's what makes it very puzzling," D'Aquila said. "Why do we have to resort to litigation on a matter that appears to be simple to me and straight forward?"

The lawsuit was filed last week. It gives no specific reasoning as to why the signage remains dark, but it makes clear that the mayor denied the permit. D'Aquila believes politics are behind the spat.

"We have the good ol' boy system in New Roads," D'Aquila said. "So if you want to come to New Roads, you got to get embraced with the good ol' boys."

D'Aquila said his client paid nearly $236,000 for the sign. To this day, he said his client is losing money each day the sign remains unlit.

Late this afternoon, Mayor Robert Myer told WBRZ he couldn't comment on this due to pending litigation. However, we did hear from an attorney from Phelps Dunbar. Jeff Barbin released the following statement:

"The City of New Roads believes that the electronic billboard constructed at 400 Hospital Road violates two separate ordinances (the sign ordinance and the Memorial Boulevard overlay district ordinance), both which were established to preserve the unique character of the city.  While the city is hopeful that the issue will be resolved amicably, because of the possibility of litigation, we have no further comment at this time."  

Records indicate that when the permit was applied for, the parish issued it. So somewhere along the way, the process changed and the city now issues permits. All sides are due in court next month.


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