COVINGTON — Property owners near the Christ Episcopal School recently filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming that school's new lights on its athletic field are a nuisance and reduce the property value of their homes.

Gerard and Barbara Hansen, who own a home in the Natchez Trace subdivision, and Depp Construction Co., which owns several properties, filed the lawsuit on May 19 in a state district court. 

The couple named Christ Episcopal Church in Covington and St. Tammany Parish government as defendants.

The plaintiffs claim that when the school undertook the project to develop its field area in 2015, there were no plans for lights. Instead, the school allegedly put up 70-foot-tall poles with nine ballasts on each pole and sought approval after they had been installed.

The St. Tammany Parish Zoning Commission, which had approved the original plan, also approved the lights.

That decision was appealed to the parish council, which upheld the approval.

The parish declined to comment, telling the Louisiana Record in an email that “no comment can be made on pending litigation.”

“We would prefer not to comment on the pending lawsuit until counsel has been retained and our lawyers have the chance to review the details of the lawsuit,” John Morvant, the headmaster of the school, told the Louisiana Record.

However, a law professor at Tulane University said these cases are common.

“Any nuisance problems certainly arise in settings where people live close together," Sally Richardson, a law professor at Tulane University, told the Louisiana Record. "In particular, where people live in residences near schools and churches and any other commercial setting.”

Richardson said Louisiana law has remedies.

“Those inconveniences under Louisiana law cannot be excessive," she said. "No one can use their property so as to provide damage to another landowner or interfere substantially with another landowner's enjoyment of his property.”

Richardson said that is the standard that the courts will use in the case.

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