Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory's administration's drainage plan suffered a setback on Wednesday. A 15th Judicial District judge ordered Lafayette Consolidated Government to halt work on the Homewood Detention Pond near Milton, ruling that LCG's seizure of the property was improper.

In her ruling, Judge Valerie Gotch-Garrett said LCG's taking of the Bendel Family's property "was made arbitrarily, capriciously, or in bad faith."

"While LCG undoubtedly conducted some analyses, data collection, and modeling regarding the Homewood Detention Project, this Court finds that LCG fell short of an adequate determining principle and/or that the decision to expropriate this particular cite was arbitrarily determined," Judge Gotch-Garrett wrote.

Garrett noted that LCG "did not adequately consider other properties in selecting the location of this project." Garrett continued that LCG cherry-picked information from a study to justify seizing the land.

"In other words, LCG focused only on Dr. Habib's findings which supported LCG's decision to take the Bendel property, while discarding findings in the same report that suggested other projects would be more beneficial," Judge Gotch-Garrett wrote.

Judge Gotch-Garrett also criticized LCG and Mayor-President Guillory for not producing a final engineering report. She further noted that Mayor-President Guillory promised to repeal the Homewood Detention Pond ordinance if a final engineering report was not produced.

"Not only did LCG fail to produce such an engineering report after publicly committing to do so--instead, submitting a self-identifying 'preliminary' memo--LCG also failed to conduct appropriate preparatory analyses or to plan for the results of such analyses," Judge Gotch-Garrett wrote. "At the time of the taking, LCG had not yet conducted a soil analysis, which should have been one of the first steps in this process. Although LCG argues that they were unable to conduct a soil analysis because they did not have access to the property, neither their modeling, planning, nor budget account for the unknown soil type or how different soil types would affect the overall cost, effectiveness, and/or timing of the project."

Judge Gotch-Garrett ordered LCG to pay the court costs of the defendants in the case.

To read the full 11-page judgment, click the icon below.

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