[StBernard] Housing ban lands St. Bernard Parish in court again

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Sun Dec 28 10:41:39 EST 2008

Let's address "fair housing". Why is the GNO Fair Housing Action Committee
(you know, the "civil rights groupees" that wants to spread its crusty
little fingers into St. Bernard parish.

In other words, why is St. Bernard so adamant towards doing silly little
things like putting up a much needed Full-Service Hospital, a Wal-Mart or
Big Boxed store to help its citizens when it can infiltrate as many
properties as it can grasp to set up ghettos of low-rent, free-rent or
gotcha rent "high-rises" in the parish and drive as many good citizens away
from its territory?

Thus far, those low-income "dollar stores", convenience outlets run by
newly-immigrated and worked by illegals are springing up within the parish
in lieu of fine stores and brand outlets.

Now that the Feds are encouraging "bus-ins" from New Orleans, etc. we're
likely to see Judge Perez, Paris Rd or St. Bernard Hwy resemble Chef Hwy,
Airline Hwy east or any ghetto-run developments aimed for the sole purpose
of attracting the crowd that will be the downfall of da parish.

I'd be willing to bet a once "thriving Village Sq. by section 8 and others"
will be the norm (and new replacement for) rental condos, hi-rise (those 2
or more floors, and other government sponsored, liberal attempts to force
people "not to live together in harmony". The fact that the government is
about to become more Marxist/Liberal/Socialist is a eye-opening truth that
this parish is in for an annexation of New Orleans into da parish for the
duration of our lifetime.


Housing ban lands St. Bernard Parish in court again
by Chris Kirkham, The Times-Picayune
Saturday December 27, 2008, 8:55 PM
Less than a year after settling a housing-discrimination lawsuit with a
local nonprofit, St. Bernard Parish is back in court with the same
fair-housing advocacy group.

This time, the parish is under fire for a ban on multifamily housing
developments passed by the Parish Council in September.

In a motion filed this month in federal court, the Greater New Orleans Fair
Housing Action Center claims St. Bernard's construction ban "operates to
disproportionately exclude minority families seeking to live in St. Bernard
Parish" because large housing developments are generally rental properties,
which, according to demographic data, are twice as likely to be occupied by
African-Americans as by white tenants.

Provident Realty Advisors, a Dallas developer trying to build four
mixed-income apartment complexes in St. Bernard using federal money, joined
the fair-housing group in asking the court to lift the multi-family housing
moratorium. If the ban is not lifted, according to Provident, it will miss
construction deadlines and lose its federal community-development money for
the projects.

The new development is the latest in a string of legal challenges to St.
Bernard's rental policies, which parish officials say are meant to preserve
the character of single-family neighborhoods and protect property values in
an unstable real estate market.

The four proposed mixed-income developments have been a hot-button political
issue in St. Bernard, with many residents questioning why the parish would
allow four new apartment complexes when it is using federal money to buy out
Village Square, a long-blighted collection of apartments in Chalmette.

Three of the four sites for which Provident has entered into a purchase
agreement are owned by the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation, a
St. Bernard nonprofit whose board of directors includes powerful parish
politicians and businessmen such as Sheriff Jack Stephens and lawyer Sidney
Torres III.

A portion of the land for two of the apartment complexes, across from the
parish-government complex in Arabi, adjoins land that parish officials hope
the Meraux Foundation will donate for a new hospital.

According to an affidavit filed in court by Matthew Harris, a managing
director with Provident, the company started discussing the projects in July
with parish officials, including Stephens, Parish President Craig Taffaro,
and Councilmen Ray Lauga and George Cavignac.

The parish confirmed that the development did not violate zoning
regulations, but in August, Lauga introduced the moratorium on housing
developments of more than five families.

The council approved the ban in September, but officials with Provident
continued to seek support from parish government in public and private
meetings during the next few months, according to Harris' filing. When it
became clear the council would not lift the moratorium, Provident sought
legal recourse, including contacting the Fair Housing Action Center.

The plan is for four apartment complexes on 4-acre sites, each with 72

Opponents fear that adding 288 units to St. Bernard would flood an already
volatile real estate market. The parish already has an ordinance that
requires property owners to get council approval before renting out
single-family homes.

"It's for the money. It doesn't have anything to do with the development of
St. Bernard Parish," said Councilman Wayne J. Landry. "It's going to create
the density of rental spaces too close, which is exactly the opposite of
what the rental ordinance is trying to do. We didn't want to have that
concentrated density, and now we're going to go and put 280 units in four

Landry and Cavignac, whose district includes one of the proposed apartment
sites, have criticized the Meraux Foundation for supporting a project they
say is against the best interests of the parish and has now embroiled the
council in another court battle.

"I think it's a shame the Meraux Foundation hasn't given us solid intent to
build a hospital, which is for the good of the parish as stated in their
charter, yet they're lobbying very hard for these dense apartment complexes
to reap financial gain from the land sale," Cavignac said.

Torres, the secretary of the Meraux Foundation board, said there has been
misinformation about the apartment developments, which will be much less
dense and will be managed by one company, unlike Village Square's multitude
of owners.

"When these investors came into St. Bernard Parish, it was perfectly legal
and permissible for them to do what they were looking to do," Torres said.
"And the council changed the rules on them -- not a very good message to
send to people looking to come to St. Bernard, much less people looking to
invest $60 million."

The first hearing regarding the fair-housing lawsuit is scheduled for Jan.

Chris Kirkham can be reached at ckirkham at timespicayune.com or 504.826.3321.

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