Annexations go before Metro Council; St. George trial date set for January

Several petitions filed by multiple property owners seeking annexation into the city-parish will come before the Metro Council for a vote later this month.

All the properties are located within the footprint of the prospective city of St. George.

They include:

• A joint petition filed earlier this year by Woman’s Hospital, H&E Equipment Services and Materra Development, which together comprise more than 225 acres on both sides of Airline Highway near Stumberg Lane. The petition also seeks annexation for a portion of Airline Highway, a state roadway, that runs between the hospital property and H&E, and also for Stumberg Lane, which runs through the hospital campus and would connect the properties to Baton Rouge city limits at Old Jefferson Highway.

• Four petitions filed collectively by 13 individual property owners in the 40-unit Willow Ridge subdivision, which is on Jefferson Highway and Willow Bay Drive near the intersection of Bluebonnet Boulevard. The petitions were originally filed in 2020 but were later removed from the Metro Council agenda for consideration because the subdivision HOA opposed the move.

• A new petition filed by Resource Bank, which is on Jefferson Highway adjacent to Willow Bay Drive. The petition also seeks the annexation of a portion of Jefferson Highway, a state-owned road, into the city because it will provide a connecting corridor between the bank and the city limits.

Under state law, properties seeking annexation into a municipality must be immediately contiguous to the municipality.

The petitions are the latest of several seeking annexation into the city of Baton Rouge, which is suing St. George organizers over the validity of the incorporation.

Voters in the prospective city approved the incorporation in Oct. 2019. Nearly two years later, the lawsuit continues to slowly make its way through 19th Judicial District Court, with a tentative court date set for Jan. 10, 2022.

The Materra/H&E/Woman’s petitions were originally supposed to be heard by the council in April. But because the petitions involved seeking annexation for a portion of state-owned road, state approval was required, which took longer than expected, according to attorney Charles Landry, who filed the petitions..

As a practical matter, annexation, should it be approved by the Metro Council, would not deprive the prospective city of St. George of significant sales tax revenues because none of the properties seeking annexation generates sales taxes. That will change, however, when retail development comes to Materra, which in its first phase will have 141 single-family homes and a BASIS charter school.

St. George spokesperson Drew Murrell disputes the validity of the petition, as he has with previous annexation petitions, on the grounds it is premature.

“If they are so confident in their case against St. George, why don’t they just wait until after the trial?” Murrell says. “We have a trial date tentatively set for January. St George is going to be a reality, so they are pulling out whatever they can do to get out of St George but it’s too little, too late.”

The petitions will be introduced at today’s Metro Council meeting. The council will take them up for a vote at the Sept. 22 meeting.