Ascension Parish plans to file lawsuits against owners of blighted property

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - People in Ascension Parish who don't take proper care of their property may soon find themselves in court.

Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa announced Thursday that the parish government plans to file about a dozen lawsuits against those property owners in "chronic" violation of the law.

"Property ownership brings with it rights and responsibilities, including the responsibility for upkeep," Matassa said in a statement. "The property owners in these lawsuits… have become a nuisance to their neighbors and community."

Jerome Fournier, director of planning and development in Ascension Parish, says the goal is tackling blight. Fournier says the owners have repeatedly been warned, receiving letters from the parish and parish attorney telling them to take action. They also have had months to start cleaning up and getting their property in compliance, according to Fournier.

"That's when we start filing the lawsuits, when we get no response at all," he said.

Officials say there are about 50 properties in the pipeline right now for a lawsuit. However, in most cases, Fournier says the homeowners are willing to work with the parish so they never have to get to that stage. They only ever file a handful of lawsuits each year. They are essentially the last straw, according to Fournier.

Overall, he says he's hopeful the initiative will help make the community a little more beautiful. "It's a long-range goal, it's not going to happen overnight, but it's something that we're really focusing on now," Fournier said.

Ascension Parish relies on complaints from the public to identify potentially blighted property. To file a complaint, call 225-450-1002.

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