Bass Pro Decision Delayed by LA Supreme Court - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Bass Pro Decision Delayed by LA Supreme Court

After an overwhelming approval from voters, many thought the shovels would quickly hit the dirt, in constructing the Bass Pro shop in Denham Springs. But the State Supreme Court this week has planted another speed bump in the already lengthy wait by agreeing to hear the appeal in the lawsuit over the store.

Denham Springs Mayor Jimmy Durbin says, upon hearing the news that the Supreme Court would hear the appeal, thus delaying any decision in the matter, his "immediate reaction was great disappointment."

Great disappointment that the construction planned for the last couple of years has once again been put on hold. After talking with the lawyers, Mayor Durbin says by agreeing to hear the appeal, the court is most likely trying to come up with a consistent opinion.

"They feel like the Supreme Court is moving in that direction," Mayor Durbin told 9 News. "With Cabela's and Bass Pro, two developments, but pretty much the same issue."

That issue: Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Last April, voters in both Livingston Parish and the City of Gonzales approved the use of TIF for their projects, but that vote was challenged. The constitutionality of how this public money was to be used was being questioned.

Both projects involve that public money.

Mayor Durbin believes that the Supreme Court may be trying to make a precedence-setting ruling that would affect both projects, and any others to come throughout the state. "They want to have an all encompassing ruling, pro or con. But we think it'll be pro in our favor," says Mayor Durbin.

Over in Gonzales, Mayor John Berthelot told 9 News he's not sure if the court is trying to link the two cases, but understands there is great similarity between the two.

Berthelot says he fully supports Livingston's effort to land Bass Pro.

Back in Denham Springs, just as the Court agreed to hear the appeal, a new sign has popped up at the proposed location for Bass Pro.

"This is not anything more than them signifying that Bass Pro still wants to locate right here in Denham Springs and Livingston Parish," says Mayor Durbin.

But as we've seen over the last couple of years, it's not been Bass Pro's dedication to the area that has been questioned, it's the coming soon part that has people wondering.

While the Supreme Court has already heard arguments earlier this month concerning the Cabela's project in Gonzales, they are not required to hear arguments at all, meaning they could simply look at the facts in the Bass Pro case and rule on it.

By the way, 40 other states use TIF funding to bring in projects similar to these.

Court observers are telling us a High Court decision could come in about a month.

Reporter: Matt Williams

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