Apt. complex as a fed. matter is up for debateApr 15th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: Top Story
On Friday, April 8, Parish President Craig Taffaro rescinded the recent Cease and Desist order against Provident Realty. This came after Judge Ginger Berrigan ordered that St. Bernard Parish would face fines totaling $625,000 in the first two weeks if they continued to halt the construction at the apartment complex site.
The cease and desist was lifted twenty-four hours before the deadline, set by Judge Berrigan for Saturday, April 9 at 5 p.m. At that time, the fines would have accumulated at a rate of $25,000 a day, and increased to $50,000 if the parish continued to enforce the order.
This recent exchange comes in the wake of a canceled emergency injunction, the hearing for which was scheduled for April 8 before Judge Buckley. But when the case was pulled from the state level and moved to federal court, Provident avoided the meeting in Judge Buckley’s courtroom.
Point of No Return
Parish President Taffaro stated in an official release, “That hearing was canceled due to a legal maneuver filed by Provident in furtherance of what I believe to be a strategic approach to delaying St. Bernard Parish’s right to be heard long enough that the construction of these developments reaches a point of no return.”
Dana Arcement, who had spoken on behalf of Chateau Lafitte Homeowners’ Association, Inc. at the public hearings one week before, released her own statement.
“Our case…has no place whatsoever in federal court. Provident Realty pulled a legal maneuver,” Arcement said, reiterating the Parish President’s statement.
One reason for the move to a higher court may come from Provident Realty’s allegations that St. Bernard Parish had violated The Fair Housing Act, and has contended a racial bias motivates the parish’s efforts. This would make the case a matter for Federal Court.
“The plaintiffs in the above mentioned lawsuit are simply exercising their rights to protect their property value and their property’s condition when it comes to commercial development on their direct neighbor’s property without the proper building permits from local governing authority,” said Arcement in the statement entitled, “Abuse of Federal Fair Housing Laws.”
Further in the statement, Arcement asserted the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and Provident Realty “continue to try to “spin”…I mean “intentionally incite by playing the race card, just to get their way.”
Arcement also said such insinuations are a blatant abuse of The Fair Housing Act, “And as such, Provident Realty Advisors and the GNOFHAC should be charged and sanctioned.”
James Perry, Executive Director of the GNOFHAC, commented “The GNOFHAC remains committed to equal housing opportunity for St. Bernard Parish…we believe the steps are appropriate and meet our goal.”
Perry continued, saying, “This apartment complex has been the subject of Federal Litigation for some time. It happens to be the ruling of the court that this [case] is proper for federal court and we stand by the courts decision.”
A Special Parish Council Meeting was held on Wednesday, April 13, at 1 p.m. The council received an update from their Attorney, in an executive session, regarding the legal options available to the parish.