New filings in Provident lawsuitMay 24th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: News
New documents were filed in the continuing series of lawsuits involving Provident Realty, St. Bernard Parish Government, and the various civic organizations of St. Bernard, as they make their way to a final decision on the fate of the apartment complexes. The documents were delivered to the parish and all parties recently, and the St. Bernard Government took its first steps in adhering to recent mandates—while continuing to execute their legal authority to govern—at the May 17 Council meeting.
Citizens attending the latest Council meeting continued to voice concern over the inspections to occur on the four Provident sites, and the non-local building permits, granted by the Fifth Circuit Court, that could be validated by extension. Parish President Craig Taffaro addressed these citizens’ concerns.
“We have been again challenged to respond to actions of these developers, and our professional staff and St. Bernard Parish Government has attempted to review the information that has been delivered in piecemeal fashion and indicates several areas of concern during the permit review process,” said Taffaro.
Dana and Larry Arcement, both named plaintiffs involved with the respective lawsuits, spoke about the hazards that Provident’s continued construction causes for neighboring residents. Dana Arcement also issued the threat of an additional lawsuit. A suit filed by those citizens and builders who sought legal permits, and the same citizens whose safety is continually jeopardized by the process not being upheld in their eyes.
“We will bring the largest class action law suit this parish has ever seen,” said Arcement, who asserted that she had thousands of citizens prepared to file such a suit.
“We are being told that [Judge Berrigan] has been kind to us,” said Council Chairman and Councilman-at-Large West Frank Auderer. He continued to express that any action taken by the Council has been necessary for the parish to avoid the fines in excess of $350,000 a week. Auderer said that there is no current strategy that he has or would voice publically, if only for the sake of keeping Provident from having advanced knowledge of Council action.
“That is the problem, they’re a step ahead, because we [the Council] have to act publicly,” said Auderer.
President Taffaro spoke on the subject further, summarizing the ongoing legal action in a letter read before the Council.
“Weekly, I’ve been informed that despite the diligent efforts to review and respond appropriately to the delivered information, the St. Bernard Parish Government again is being categorized as being obstructive, and arbitrary in its delivery of services relevant to the Provident developments,” said Taffaro.
The statements also dictated the course the administration plans to take following the Court’s mandate of inspections and getting the debate over Provident’s permits back to the Courts.
“In an effort to move this question to its final destination of legal review, I am ordering that all inspections of St. Bernard Parish Government, including all relevant departments thereof, immediately begin conducting all usual and routine inspections on all four Provident developments in St. Bernard Parish. Further, it is ordered that in any instances in which a question of inspection exists, that that question be answered by the most concrete basis that can be reasonably performed, direct observation,” Taffaro said.
Also adding, “All inspections will continue post haste, as a means to document the work and to honor the courts latest order.”
Taffaro reminded all attending that Provident has been building without the approval of any governing body or authority in St. Bernard. In fact, the break-neck speed of the builds have been done at Provident’s own peril. If the inspections come back not up to code, all construction could be torn down. Taffaro declared, that for this reason, the parish would not accept responsibility for Provident’s construction efforts, as they have not followed state or local mandates according to Taffaro.
“There shall be no acceptance into the St. Bernard perpetual maintenance program of any construction that was not directly observed by a St. Bernard Parish inspector and validated to meet the required specifications… and St. Bernard Parish neither seeks to nor accepts any future liability for the construction of the buildings, foundations, roadways, access drives, waterlines, drainage lines, sewer lines, or any other infrastructure of the provident developments, until such time that a building permit is applied for, received and acted upon within the established laws of St. Bernard and the State of Louisiana. All infrastructure and related construction relative to these developments remain the responsibility to Provident, the owner of record,” Taffaro stated.
“With regard to the issuance of a building permit,” Taffaro continued, “it is clear that this developer did not meet the local approval to construct these developments, as is required by law. The federal district court sought to promulgate this unpermitted and thus illegal building activity. And after the fact, pretend that the required procedures were justifiably ignored by issuing a new building permit for construction, that has taken place without proper permitting, would further support the very foundation of the objection that St. Bernard Parish has held throughout.”
“Therefore, I will not issue or call to issue building permit relevant to the Provident applications, until such time as all established procedures are followed in accordance with all local and state laws,” Taffaro said.