Vermilion-Lafayette boundary dispute heading to court

Vermilion Parish is fighting efforts by neighboring Lafayette Parish to move the parish line farther south, taking land Vermilion considers its own under a 2002 boundary agreement thought to have ended decades of dispute over whe re the border should be.

The Vermilion Parish Police Jury filed a lawsuit this month in state court in Vermilion Parish to enforce the 12-year-old boundary agreement.

The move comes after Lafayette city-parish government began making efforts last year to void the compact and draw the parish line anew, with some city-parish officials arguing the boundary drawn after the 2002 agreement was based on incomplete research of historical records.

“I doubt (Vermilion Parish officials) are interested in where the line is,” said City-Parish Councilman Don Bertrand, who has been leading the charge on the City-Parish Council to revisit the boundary issue. “In truth, I think they are only interested in what serves Vermilion Parish.”

Vermilion Parish Police Jury attorney Paul Moresi III could not be reached for comment Monday on the litigation.

Moresi said in an interview earlier this year that Vermilion Parish expected Lafayette officials to abide by the terms of the 2002 agreement.

“We continue to feel that we had a contract and that one party acting alone cannot break that contract,” he said.

The Vermilion Parish Police Jury’s lawsuit seeks to have a judge declare that the 2002 agreement is binding and to block Lafayette from taking the next step in its push to redraw the boundary — a planned Oct. 29 survey to officially mark the new parish line as Lafayette sees it.

The Lafayette City-Parish Council revived the dormant dispute over the parish line in 2013 with a vote to back out of the 2002 deal with Vermilion Parish, under which both parishes asked the state Land Office to research the line and agreed to adopt whatever boundary the state agency drew.

The City-Parish Council then voted earlier this year to adopt a new line based on what Bertrand argued is more thorough historical research on where the border was when it was originally drawn in 1844.

Bertrand’s proposal called for adopting a new line on the west side of the Vermilion River and for spending up to $30,000 for additional research on the parish boundary east of the Vermilion River, a portion of the Vermilion-Lafayette border that has yet to be thoroughly researched.

No court date has been set in lawsuit filed this month by Vermilion Parish over the boundary issue.