West Feliciana Police Jury can’t agree on property sale

The West Feliciana Parish Police Jury turned down a purchase agreement that would have allowed the parish hospital board to buy 7.67 acres of parish-owned Burnett Road property for a new hospital site.

Jurors Lea Williams, Melvin Young, John Kean and President Ricky Lambert voted against accepting the agreement presented at the jury’s Monday meeting.

They said further negotiations are needed to settle two remaining issues: access to land the jury is retaining and the jury’s rights if the hospital later decides to sell the property to another health care operator.

Jurors Mel Percy, Heather Howle and Otis Wilson voted to accept the agreement, which had been written after several months of negotiations.

After his motion to finish the sale failed, Percy asked Lambert to remove Kean from a committee working with special counsel Charles Griffin to represent the jury’s interests in the negotiations.

“I don’t think it will ever be settled with Kean on the committee. He’ll always find something,” Percy said.

The jury wants $106,000 per acre for the property.

Ragan Richard, attorney for the hospital board, and Mark Samples, a property consultant for the hospital, said the two sides are close to an agreement, with 80 percent of the issues already resolved.

Williams and Kean said part of the boundary line between the property the hospital wants and the remainder of the larger tract falls on the side of a cliff.

They asked that the jury be allowed to have access to more land along the bluff for possible use as a walking trail.

Hospital representatives told the jurors the board will grant the jury access to the remaining property along an existing driveway leading to the Health Unit building and will extend the road.

The current “right of first refusal” clause in the agreement allows the jury to buy back the property at the sale price during the first five years of hospital ownership, if the board should decide to sell the new hospital.

Other topics before the jury included:

HOME RULE CHARTER: Jurors agreed to ask Kenner demographer Cedric Floyd for a timeline on when a districting plan for a new parish council will be ready for submission to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Percy said Floyd is “very evasive” when questioned about how much time the jury has to submit its plan in order for an election of council members and parish president to be held in October.

“I have some reservations about whether he’s doing this timely,” charter commission member Z. David DeLoach added.

LAND CONTROVERSY: After lengthy discussions, jurors tabled Percy’s request, on a 4-2 vote, to send a letter to an abstractor setting a deadline for his report on the ownership of land near the old La. 10 ferry landing. The dispute is pending in court and a judge has strongly suggested the jury settle the issue with the heirs of the late Paul A. Lambert Sr.