St. Francisville ferry landing dispute continues

Legal wrangling over the ownership of land near the old Mississippi ferry landing kept going in District Court on Wednesday, with no end in sight.

The West Feliciana Parish Police Jury is disputing the ownership claims by Lambert Gravel Co. and the heirs of the late Paul A. Lambert Sr., among them jury President Ricky Lambert.

The Police Jury was unsuccessful earlier this month in getting 20th Judicial District Judge George H. Ware Jr. removed from a pending lawsuit in the dispute.

The Lamberts filed suit in December alleging the jury “disturbed” their ownership of the property bordering the old ferry road by removing concrete barricades blocking public access to the property they claim to own.

The Police Jury later issued a “notice to abate a nuisance” to the Lamberts when they replaced the barricades with items used in the sand and gravel industry that the jury called “junk.”

Ware attempted earlier this year to get the two sides to work out an agreement that would save both sides expensive litigation costs and allow greater access for the public to a boat launching ramp the jury built on the ferry landing site last year.

The judge apparently tried again Wednesday to get the two sides to reach an agreement, meeting in chambers with the various lawyers, who in turn met with their clients.

Jurors Lea Williams, Heather Howle and Mel Percy met with the Police Jury’s lawyers before Ware began addressing issues raised in the dispute.

The judge delayed a decision on the Lamberts’ request for a preliminary injunction barring the jury from pursuing the nuisance claim until the jury decides whether to hear the Lamberts’ appeal of the jury administration’s notice to abate the nuisance.

Ware denied the Police Jury’s motion that the lawsuit was vague and ambiguous because it does not spell out the exact location of the property the Lamberts claim.

He said the jury says on one hand it does not know what property the Lamberts claim, but on the other hand says the land they claim is owned by the state and a neighboring landowner.

Ware also cautioned the Police Jury against trying to force the Lamberts to bring the state and the neighboring landowner into the lawsuit, saying that tactic may change the entire nature of the dispute.