Lafayette questions Vermillion border
LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette City-Parish Council’s decision this week to void an agreement with Vermilion Parish on the location of the parish line could re-ignite a dispute that had lain dormant for a decade.
The council voted unanimously Tuesday to toss out the 10-year-old boundary agreement with the Vermilion Parish Police Jury over questions about whether the pact gave too much land to Vermilion Parish.
The council’s action has little immediate effect because the drawing of a boundary between parishes requires more than a decision by just one parish.
Barring a judge’s order or some unusual act by the Legislature, Vermilion Parish would need to agree with Lafayette that the line is in the wrong place.
“We do not think that a unilateral withdrawal from the agreement has any effect,” Vermilion Parish Police Jury attorney Paul Moresi III said Thursday.
Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Don Bertrand, who has led the charge to back out of the agreement, said he hopes to set up a meeting with Vermilion Parish officials and present them with research he believes shows definitively that the parish line should be shifted south, farther into Vermilion Parish.
“If our friends from Lafayette want to sit and talk with us, I’m sure we will, but I really don’t see anything changing,” Moresi said. “ A deal is a deal.”
Vermilion Parish was carved out of Lafayette Parish in 1844, and the parish border has long been in question.
The issue came to a head in 1999, when then-Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Lenwood Broussard argued that challenger Linda Duhon should not be allowed to run against him because she lived in Vermilion Parish.
Duhon had paid taxes and voted in Lafayette Parish for several years, but a state judge sided with Broussard, ruling Duhon could not run because she was actually a resident of Vermilion Parish.
In an effort to clear up the boundary issue, the Lafayette City-Parish Council and the Vermilion Parish Police Jury agreed in 2002 to ask the state Land Office to research the line and to adopt whatever line the state agency drew.
Both parishes voted in 2003 to accept the line as drawn by the Land Office.
When asked by Lafayette council members Tuesday about the results of voiding the 2002 agreement with Vermilion, Lafayette City-Parish Attorney Michael Hebert said there was no certain answer.
“Where that leaves the boundary is unclear,” he said, adding that, in the absence of an agreement with Vermilion Parish, the issue will likely have to be resolved in court.
Bertrand said he believes Lafayette has a good legal case because the 2002 and 2003 votes of the council — made before he was a member — were based on inaccurate information.
He said the Land Office relied on a border drawn in the 1930s at the request of Vermilion Parish.
In the years since the new line was adopted, Bertrand said, additional records have been found showing that the 1930s line was never the official parish boundary.
Those records include field notes from the surveys of the parish line done in the 1800s and records from the police juries in Vermilion and Lafayette indicating the 1930s line used by the state Land Office was never agreed upon by Lafayette.
Moresi said he has yet to see records that definitely support Bertrand’s argument of where the line should be.
“We disagree,” Moresi said of Bertrand’s conclusions, “and so did the state Land Office.”