City of Slidell sued by property owner over rezoning ordinance

By Anna Aguillard | Jul 24, 2014

COVINNTON - A property owner with plans to open a gas station on Highway 190 in Slidell is suing the City after its council adopted an ordinance rezoning neighboring land, allegedly solely to allow RaceTrac petroleum to open a store.

1900 Highway 190 LLC brought suit to the City of Slidell in the 22nd Judicial District Court on July 9.

On July 23, 2013, the plaintiff contends that Slidell City Council adopted ordinance No. 3698, annexing new property along Short Cut Highway (also known as Fremaux Avenue), and rezoning the land from neighborhood to city classification. The plaintiff claims that this land lies only 496 feet from the property that he intended to build upon.

The suit claims that the planned RaceTrac store will directly compete with the commercial operations of the plaintiff’s property, thereby damaging and devaluing it. The plaintiff also argues that, by allowing RaceTrac to build on land it previously could not, the defendant “takes and damages” the property of citizen in violation of Article I §4 of the Constitution of the United States. The plaintiff asserts that the defendant’s actions constitute as a taking of private property by a governmental entity without just compensation.

The plaintiff further argues that the annexation was not in compliance with the current laws on the extension of corporate limits within Louisiana cities. It states that singling out a certain parcel of land, as the City of Slidell allegedly did in order to allow RaceTrac to build a convenience store and gas station, constitutes as “spot zoning.” Additionally, the plaintiff accuses the City of Slidell of “piecemeal zoning,” as it allegedly did not conduct a careful study before annexation.

The defendant is accused of arbitrary spot and piecemeal zoning and unconstitutional taking of property.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought by the plaintiff for reduction to property value, loss of business opportunity and income, engineering and appraisal fees, legal interest and attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiff is represented by A. Albert Ajubita, James A. Cobb Jr., Jason R. Anders and James R. Washington III of New Orleans based Ajubita, Leftwich and Salzer LLC.

The case has been assigned to Division E Judge William J. Burris.

Case no. 2014-13132.

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