Metro Council annexes two more parcels of land, cutting through proposed St. George area

The proposed city of St. George lost about five square miles on Wednesday after the Baton Rouge Metro Council approved two more annexations into the city of Baton Rouge.

In total, the city of Baton Rouge gained about 900 acres of undeveloped land in the southwest corner of the parish. One of the parcels draws a line from the southern border of the Baton Rouge city limit to the bottom of the parish, cutting right through the proposed new city.

City boundaries, generally speaking, must be contiguous, which means the area between the two new annexed properties and the area west of them are inaccessible to St. George.

The Metro Council voted 10-1 to approve the annexation, with only Councilman Buddy Amoroso objecting. Trae Welch was absent.

Amoroso condemned what he called another effort to thwart the St. George incorporation effort.

“They deserve the right to vote for a new city of St. George and I don’t think we should do anything to shortchange that effort,” he said.

The largest annexed parcel — about 630 acres — is owned by Charles Lambert, listed as director of Louisiana Riverboat Casinos Inc. The property is a vacant plot of land, south of the Riverbend subdivision, a neighborhood by the river at the southern tip of the city.

The other annexation, covering about 300 acres, came from a group petition submitted by the owners of Live Oak Stables Inc., the Baton Rouge Water Company and a group that includes Prescott Foster Bailey, James J. Bailey II, Virginia Palfrey Bailey Noland, Claude Reynaud Jr., Charles Lane and the Cottage Inc.

John Noland, who represented his family’s land, said they oppose efforts to divide the parish by the St. George incorporation effort.

“We have no interest in being annexed out of the city of Baton Rouge,” he said.

Organizers hoping to create the future city of St. George in East Baton Rouge Parish are still gathering signatures to put the proposal to a vote before the end of the year. They say they are about 1,000 signatures away and should have them in time to place the matter on the December ballot.

But Mary Olive Pierson, an attorney representing the city of Baton Rouge on annexation and St. George litigation, said the city will file a lawsuit challenging the petition once it’s filed. She said the petition is invalid, in part, because the boundaries of the proposed city have changed since the incorporation effort was initiated.

The Louisiana Attorney General has said he doesn’t think the recent annexations should affect the petition; however, Pierson said she disagrees.

In recent months, the city-parish also has brought in through annexations Celtic Studios, Costco, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Baton Rouge General Medical Center and the Mall of Louisiana.

Woody Jenkins, former legislator and newspaper owner, is challenging the annexations of Baton Rouge General and the mall., claiming the boundaries were unreasonably drawn and violate local and state procedures. His lawsuit is pending at the 19th Judicial District Court.

Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter, @rebekahallen. For more coverage of city-parish government, follow the City Hall Buzz blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/cityhallbuzz.