Landowners suing to stop Corps of Engineers from dredging private canal

Michelle Massey Jan. 31, 2011, 10:29am

Owners of 14,000 acres of property in St. Charles Parish are suing to stop the Corps of Engineers from dredging a private canal.

St. Charles Land Company II, J. Edgar Monroe Foundation, Burgess St. Charles Land, Michael W. Burgess, as Trustee of George Burgess Jr. Trust #2 and George Burgess Jr., Trust #4 and Burgess Properties filed suit against the federal government and the Army Corps of Engineers on Jan. 20 in federal court in New Orleans.

The property at issue is on the parish Line dividing St. Charles Parish and Jefferson Parish and adjoins the Louisiana Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

The owners state that the government has not expropriated or purchased any portion of the Parish Line Canal located on their property or obtained a properly recorded right-of-way.

According to the complaint, the Corps plans to use the Parish Line Canal to access the construction site of the West Return Floodwall and intends to dredge the canal to make it serviceable for barge transport.

A representative of the property owners received a letter in November 2010 regarding the contract for construction and dredging.

The letter requested permission to deposit spoil material in a part of their private property. The property owners refused to consent to the deposit of spoil material and in response received a notice of condemnation proceeding filed by the Corps of Engineers.

The area included in the condemnation proceedings does not include the Parish Line Canal.

The government is accused of trespassing on private property.

The property owners are asking the court to issue an injunction preventing the Corp from continuing to enter their property and from conducting the dredging and depositing of dredge material on their property.

The plaintiffs are represented by Randall A. Smith, L. Tiffany Hawkins Davis, J. Geoffrey Ormsby and Melissa M. Desormeaux of Smith & Fawer in New Orleans.

U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-00128

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