The Investigators: Collis Temple converting home into apartments without proper permit

The Investigators: Collis Temple converting home into apartments without proper permit
The stop work order for construction on the Garden District house owned by Collis Temple (Source: WAFB)
The stop work order for construction on the Garden District house owned by Collis Temple (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Former LSU basketball star Collis Temple is at odds with some of his neighbors in the Baton Rouge Garden District. As the Investigators found out Thursday, the dispute is over whether Temple has proper permits to build apartments there.

The home at 505 Camellia Dr. is owned by Temple and currently going through a remodel. However, Garden District President Eric Troutman said Temple did not get the proper permits before beginning construction.

"The owner is a licensed contractor. He knows the rules and regulations," said Troutman. "His desire to go around the process and procedures that are already in place just shows inability to operate in good faith."

Neighbors said construction on the home began late last year, but DPW said Temple did not get his permit until this year on January 8, and that too was the wrong kind of permit.

Kiran: Legally, are you supposed to start building without a permit? 

"Oh never. Always need to get a permit before you start any work," replied Justin Dupuy, with DPW's permitting department.

Dupuy said Temple got a permit to repair and remodel a single residence home, but Temple is actually converting the building into several apartments and putting in a parking lot.

The area is zoned for the apartments, but Dupuy said Temple does not have the permits to build them.

"If that were the case, that this is going to change from a single family use to a multi-family use, then additional permits are going to be required," said Dupuy.

When the Investigators showed up at the home around 10 a.m., a DPW permitting inspector was just leaving after issuing a stop work order, meaning they had to stop all construction work outside the home due to a lack of proper permits.

Temple walked towards the direction WAFB was standing, but then turned around, got in his truck and drove off.

Despite the stop work order, the Investigators saw crews continuing to move dirt around for the parking lot. When they noticed our camera, they went inside. The Investigators also went back around 12:30 p.m. and found crews atop a ladder working on electrical wires.

"No electrical work would be permitted, nothing outside the scope of what the permit was issued for," said Dupuy.

The Investigators knocked on the door at the home several times, but there was no answer. Late Thursday afternoon, Temple agreed to an interview, claiming he has the correct permits.

Temple: "I have a residential repair and building permit."
Kiran: "Are you making apartments?"
Temple: "Yeah, I'm converting it to be residential residence as it exists."

Temple said it'll be up to seven rental apartments there. When asked about the stop work order and crews working despite it, Temple said "I don't think they were still working. I think they were picking up."

Temple said he's simply repairing the sidewalks and not building an actual parking lot, despite how it appears.

When asked specifically about the DPW stop order saying he needs permitting to build a parking lot, Temple said "Those are semantics. I don't think they really understood that was for a parking lot. Whatever it is, as you are aware, we're going to make sure we're in compliance."

Temple said he has thought all along he had the proper permits.

He said he now understands the stop work order required him to get plumbing and electrical permits and he did that Thursday afternoon.

However, DPW said he still needs a permit to convert the single family home into apartments.

Kiran: "Do you at all feel you're above the law here?" 
Temple: "Not at all. I'm just following procedures and regulations and upgrading a home."

The head of DPW told the Investigators by phone Thursday that Temple is still lacking the proper permits.

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