Though voters approved the formation of St. George last November, the process of creating a new city is still marred by lawsuits and annexations.
Just a few weeks after the vote, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and three other plaintiffs filed suit against St. George organizers challenging their ability to provide services to residents within the proposed city limits. They also argue incorporation will “have a substantial adverse impact on the city of Baton Rouge.”
After plenty of legal back and forth, a March 2 ruling allowed the lawsuit to go forward—minus one plaintiff, community activist
M.E. Cormier. The judge says Broome, Metro Council member Lamont Cole and attorney Lewis Unglesby have the right to challenge incorporation.
“Our contention has been and will continue to be the merit of this lawsuit, which is to prove whether they can sustain a city of 86,000 people,” Broome told Daily Report. “Where’s their budget? Where’s their operating information? I owe it to every citizen of this parish to make sure that is done.”
Attorneys for the mayor predict the court battle will drag on for at least three years. St. George organizers are tasked with presenting detailed budgetary information about the prospective city to the court.
In the meantime, eight requests for annexations into Baton Rouge were approved early this year—all for properties in United Plaza Boulevard off Essen Lane. That led St. George organizers to file a lawsuit against the annexations in February, claiming they were “an attempt to deprive the city of St. George of revenues.”
Only properties on the boundary with Baton Rouge are eligible for annexation, and since then at least three other major properties in the area have filed for annexation, including two state office buildings.
But the lawsuits and annexations haven’t stopped momentum for St. George organizers. They are drafting a transition district bill to outline plans for the city, which is expected to go before the state Legislature this year.
Residents within St. George are joining forces as well, organizing a farmers/arts market for the community. Originally dubbed the St. George Farmers & Arts Market, it was recently rebranded as the Southeast Farmers & Arts Market.
The market will host its first event May 9 at Woodlawn High School, with plans for markets every second and third Saturday of the month.
This article was originally published in the April 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.