NEW ORLEANS — Homeowners in the Eastover subdivision in New Orleans lost an appeal at the Louisiana Fourth District Circuit Court of Appeal, which found a state statute that facilitated the collection of association dues to be constitutional.
In a March 22 ruling, the court sided with the Eastover Neighborhood Improvement and Security District over the objections of Charles and Madalyn Cochrane and the Concerned Citizens of Eastover.
The plaintiffs had challenged House Bill 323, which was established in part to ease the financial burden of Eastover Property Owner Association (EPOA) due to 100 property owners not paying their assessments, causing a loss of $125,000. The bill required homeowners to pay their association fees when paying their property taxes.
The panel including judges Daniel Dysart, Madeleine Landrieu and Marion F. Edwards affirmed a lower court ruling from March 2016.
After the state enacted the statute, the City of New Orleans passed a resolution 6-0 calling for a special election for Nov. 16, 2013. In the special election, 60 percent of voters in the subdivision approved a proposal that established payment of $1,652 in lump sum instead of quarterly installments, the ruling said.
The Fourth Circuit panel found that a lump sum payment in conjunction with the homeowners’ annual property tax payment was an “impairment of constitutional dimensions.”
It also agreed with the trial court, finding that the plaintiffs failed to support the allegation that the statute operated as a substantial impairment to the contractual relationships between the homeowners and the EPOA.
“Even assuming that plaintiffs proved a substantial impairment of a contractual relationship, we find that the EPOA had a significant and legitimate public purpose in promoting and encouraging the beautification, security, and overall betterment of its district that justified enacting La. R.S. 33:9091.21,” the ruling said.