Property Owners Oppose Proposed Incorporation Of Satsuma

SATSUMA, LA (AP) — An effort to incorporate the Livingston Parish community of Satsuma is getting pushback from some landowners who say the move is nothing more than a land grab.

         The Advocate’s Heidi R. Kinchen reports landowners and local businessmen are questioning why roughly 4,500 acres of vacant land was included in the proposed 6,500-acre town.

         The incorporation issue will go to voters March 28.

         Developer Garry Lewis said Wednesday that he owns about 2,000 acres in the proposed town limits. About 1,800 of those acres lie south of Interstate 12 in an area Lewis describes as having "not one human inhabitant."

         What the acreage does include, however, is the site for the parish's proposed general aviation airport — one of a handful of projects that prompted a residents' group called Save Satsuma to begin the incorporation effort.

         Lewis said incorporation supporters have included his and others' vacant land in the proposed town to "extort land and money" through taxes, development fees or regulations that would halt development altogether.

         Lyndon Arledge, co-chairman of the incorporation effort, denies those accusations. He said Wednesday that becoming a town is the best way for residents to have a say in commercial developments that may affect their community, especially the proposed airport.

         "If we incorporated, we wanted to be able to regulate noise and safety factors related to that," Arledge said. "We just really want a seat at the table."

         The dispute over the town's proposed boundaries held up the balloting process after former East Baton Rouge city-parish planner Douglas Villien sent an report to the Governor's Office in August, highlighting the landowners' concerns and suggesting that petition organizers had "unlawful motives" in seeking incorporation.

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