Council Preview 11/18: A tax break, a city marshal, and four empty directors’ chairs

Illustration: Two figures peeking under a giant rug-sized Lafayette Consolidated Government logo
Illustration by Peter DeHart

The gist: After the torrid pace of recent months, the agendas for both of this week’s council meetings are relatively light. There are some big discussion items to watch: redevelopment of the old federal courthouse and filling long-vacant director positions.

City Council agenda
Parish Council agenda

The old federal courthouse developers are asking to not pay $1.35 million in property taxes. The request comes through the restoration tax abatement program, which allows developers to temporarily avoid taxes on the increased value of a restored property. In the case of the old federal courthouse, the developers are investing $16 million that they don’t want to pay taxes on for the next five years. The total tax abatement they are seeking, oddly enough, is almost exactly the same as the $1.4 million the developers paid the city for this property two years ago. While the developers pledged to build 67 apartments and 17,500 square feet of commercial/retail space, for the past six months they’ve discussed eliminating all commercial/retail space, and have submitted official plans to the development and planning department that, if approved, would add apartments and eliminate all commercial/retail space. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, the city has the right to start fining the developers $10,000 every month until construction is finished — while actual construction has yet to really get started.

C. Michael Hill is expected to be confirmed as the official city marshal. He’s already held the job on an interim basis since 2018, filling in when Brian Pope was convicted of malfeasance. Pope was formally removed from office after his appeals were exhausted. Hill won’t hold the job for long though. The runoff election for Lafayette’s next city marshal is Dec. 5. Whoever wins that race will take over for Hill in January. Meanwhile ICYMI: Lafayette’s former city marshal is now in jail.

More dialogue between the City Council and the mayor-president on filling key director positions is on deck. There was already a spirited discussion at the last meeting when multiple City Council members expressed concern at the pace for finding full-time permanent directors for LUS, LUS Fiber, the parks and rec department, and the police chief. Progress remains slow on all fronts.

The drinks are coming! The drinks are coming! Beausoleil Books’ request for a conditional use permit to operate a bar/lounge in Downtown Lafayette is up for final approval. Let us all pray that something can finally go right in 2020 and that soon you can buy your Hemingway with a side of gin.

The city may be cleaning up debris from private and/or gated roads. The argument for doing so is to ensure that access on roads that public vehicles may drive isn’t blocked by debris left over from recent storms.

The parish may be doing some real estate deals with the city of Scott. It appears as though the deal to hand Scott Park over to the city of Scott may at long last be finalized. And there’s a deal on the table for the city of Scott to also acquire the adjudicated property at 905 Caret St. through a collaborative endeavor agreement.

It’s public comment time for the city! Remember, public comments for city and parish council meetings now rotate rather than happening on the same day.

Two properties are asking to be reclassified:

150 S. Beagle RoadResidential MixedMixed-Use Neighborhood
SE corner of East Butcher Switch Road and ThruwayCommercial-HeavyResidential Single-Family

A big batch of adjudicated properties, including some in Downtown and Freetown, are going up for public bid. Here’s the list, which were all initiated by the same developer, Castle Row LLC, which lists Bradley Frizzell and Samuel Viator as its managers:

104 S. Refinery St.107 Stewart St.
105 S. Refinery St.404 Stewart St.
109 S. Refinery St.406 Stewart St.
110 S. Refinery St.117 Clinton St.
111 S. Refinery St.207 E. Convent St.
126 S. Refinery St.230 Jackson St.
408 General Mouton Ave.434 Cleveland St.
409 Guidry St.