Walmart suit reopened: Next chapter in shopping complex debateMay 4th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: top story
On April 18, the attorneys for Moretco re-filed their case regarding the shopping complex slated for Belle Chasse’s Highway 23 centered around a 115 thousand square foot Walmart.
James Garner, an attorney with Sher, Garner, Cahill, Tichter, Klein & Hilbert, L.L.C.—the firm that represents Moretco—said his client has been trying to work with the parish, but the two parties cannot reach a consensus.
“Our client, for the longest time, has been trying to work something out [and] make this work for the parish, for the land owners, and for Walmart,” Garner said.
“The economy is in the doldrums, and one of the biggest companies is offering to come in…[and] pull in $4 million in tax dollars into Plaquemines,” Garner said. “[Money] that is either going to Orleans or Jefferson right now…the parish is making this as hard as can be.”
Councilman Keith Hinkley, District 2, where the Walmart shopping center would be built said that talks had failed because of Moretco had failed to really sit down with parish officials and work through the matter.
“It’s their prerogative,” Hinkley said about the case being refiled. “They chose to do so. We had a meeting, they didn’t come back with anything. There were provisions to sit down and work through this and they don’t want to do it that way.”
However, Moretco’s lawsuit maintains their willingness to negotiate. The suit also outlines several modifications Moretco made to their development at the request of Councilman Hinkley and Parish President Billy Nungesser.
At the time this story went to press, ten of the thirteen defendants had been served with Motion for Preliminary Injunctions and the Petition for a Declaratory Judgement in the case, so no binding action has been taken as of yet. The parish has retained special counsel who could not be reached for comment.
The documents filed by Moretco’s attorneys request that the court file a judgment recognizing the building permits, thereby allowing construction to begin.
The crux of the case is centered on the fact that the building regulations for structures over 25,000 square-feet were approved by the parish to this Walmart and its supporting structures after Moretco applied for the permits. The plans of Moretco and Walmart would have to be approved by the Planning and Urban Development board (PUD), who would base its decision on following additional criteria. The project would be subject to additional public debate.
The case asserts that retroactively applying an ordinance to a permit-application that had already been submitted was unjustified, and that the Walmart should be allowed in as is, under the guidelines the permit was authorized under.
Regal Bisso, an attorney and the legal consultant to the Planning and Development Board, spoke up at its February meeting.
“It is not a black and white issue,” Bisso said. “Simply filing an application doesn’t give you a vested right.”
As of yet, a permit has not been issued to Morecto.