Council approves plan to sell LLT lots after auction threatJul 13th, 2012 | By admin | Category: News
Two weeks after receiving pressure from the Louisiana Land Trust to get the ball rolling on taking ownership of the 2,400 properties or face an auction where they could be listed below market value, the St. Bernard Parish Council during their July 3 meeting approved the LLT Disposition Plan. Additionally, the council adopted a resolution requesting Parish President Dave Peralta to sign the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with LLT and the Louisiana Office of Community Development.
Michael Taylor, Executive Director for Louisiana Land Trust, was present during the meeting and defended the organization’s auction plans which were criticized by the council as being out of left field. Taylor explained to the council that LLT saw it necessary to move forward with an August auction for nearly 300 properties as they “saw no clear path; we felt like that was what we had to do to protect LLT”.
According to LLT, the Parish was supposed to take ownership within three years of LLT’s acquisition.
“That deadline for the oldest inventory expired in January 2010,” wrote LLT Executive Director Mike Taylor in a June 25 email to the council. “Presently, 95% of the properties are beyond the three-year deadline, yet approximately 2,500 properties remain in LLT’s St. Bernard’s inventory.”
LLT is currently paying $400,000 per month to maintain the properties, and even if a CEA and Disposition Plan were approved immediately, the inventory of LLT property wouldn’t start to thin out until late summer, Taylor said. That means the organization would incur an additional $1.2 million in maintenance costs over the course of summer.
Councilchair Guy McInnis stated that he took issue with LLT announcing auction plans on nearly 300 properties that the parish had worked to solicit interest. Since late May, the parish website has had a link where parties can view and express interest in available LLT properties.
“The only reason you have 300 properties on that website is because of us,” McInnis stated heatedly.
After a lengthy discussion, the council unanimously approved the Parish’s Redevelopment and Disposition Plan for LLT properties, authorizing the SBPG to forward the plan to the state.
Additionally, the council approved the resolution to request Parish President Dave Peralta to sign the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement. Upon it’s approval, the CEA essentially says that the parish, LLT and OCD must agree to certain matters concerning the transfer of the properties and implementation of the $3 million in Community Block Development Grant monies.
Although the parish must now wait for state approval on the plan and agreement, Taylor stated that upon LLT and OCD’s approval, an auction could be postponed. The parish’s plan has an October start date for sales of the lots.
As a means to protect the SBPG, Councilman Ray Lauga introduced “a stop-gap measure” that rezones LLT properties as G-1, Government properties, if LLT does go forward with their August auction.