More than 500 individual property owners, whose homes are located in the prospective city of St. George, have filled out paperwork requesting annexation into the city of Baton Rouge, though the petitions have not been finalized or submitted to the city-parish, according to M.E. Cormier, lead organizer of the anti-St. George group Better Together, which has been collecting the petitions.
The group is also working with five neighborhood associations interested in requesting annexation for their entire neighborhood.
Those numbers could grow after Saturday’s planned annexation day, at which volunteers from Better Together will provide information and assistance to anyone interested in seeking annexation into the city limits.
“Volunteers will be available to answer questions anyone might have about the annexation process and to help them facilitate annexation,” she says.
In the coming weeks, the group plans to map the location of homes whose owners have completed annexation petitions, and “build the petitions around that based on the support that we already have,” she says. “We will try to find a path forward for anyone who wants it.”
A property must be contiguous to the city boundaries or immediately adjacent to a property that is contiguous with the city boundaries in order to be eligible to seek annexation.
Separately, several commercial properties, including six office buildings on United Plaza Boulevard and Lipsey’s headquarters complex near Siegen Lane, have filed annexation petitions with the city-parish. Those petitions are working their way through the process.
It is not clear when they will be brought to the Metro Council for approval, which is the final step in the process. But attorney Charles Landry, who filed the petitions, says he continues to field phone calls on a daily basis from interested property owners and expects to file additional petitions after Thanksgiving.
Also unclear is what sort of jack-o’-lantern effect the successful annexation of dozens or more properties into the city of Baton Rouge would have on the prospective city of St. George or the delivery of municipal services to residents in both cities.
What is certain is that such questions won’t be answered until legal challenges to St. George have been exhausted. Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Cormier and Metro Council member Lamont Cole filed suit challenging the incorporation earlier this month. A response from the St. George side is due in the coming days but has not yet been filed.
St. George supporters have been working through social media to raise money for a legal defense fund. St. George spokesman Drew Murrell says the response will be filed by the deadline.
As for the flurry of annexation petitions, he says, “Why not work with us to create a 21st century city? Let’s work together. If you annex into Baton Rouge your taxes go up on day one. … St. George offers you the lowest taxes and an opportunity to create a city fo you and your family.”
(This story has been updated to include comments from St. George spokesman Drew Murrell.)