Court of Appeal upholds decision favoring Vermilion Parish in border war with Lafayette Parish

By Richard Burgess

Lafayette Parish has lost another round in its long-running border war with Vermilion Parish over the location of the parish line.

In an opinion released Wednesday, the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a ruling earlier this year by a trial judge who sided with Vermilion Parish in the dispute.

Lafayette Parish now will ask the state Supreme Court to review the issue, said Gary McGoffin, who is representing city-parish government in the legal fight to push the boundary a little farther south.

At stake is about 1,000 to 1,200 acres.

The boundary was created in 1844, when Vermilion Parish was carved out Lafayette Parish, but there have long been questions about the precise location of the parish line.

“Unfortunately, with regard to the boundary line between the two parishes, the enabling legislation referenced then-standing timber as boundary landmarks, and as time passed, those landmarks disappeared,” the appeals judges wrote in a 12-page opinion upholding the decision favoring Vermilion Parish.

In an effort to clear up the uncertainty, Vermilion and Lafayette parishes agreed in 2002 to have the State Land Office research the line, and the two parishes committed to adopting whatever boundary the land office drew.

Lafayette city-parish officials questioned the outcome, alleging the new line was based on incomplete historical research.

The issue came to a head in 2013, when the Lafayette City-Parish Council voted to back out of the 2002 agreement, prompting a lawsuit from Vermilion Parish seeking to keep it in place.

Vermilion Parish officials argue a deal is a deal and downplay the questions over the accuracy of the parish line.

City-parish government has argued a critical issue is whether the 2002 agreement actually moved the parish boundary, rather than pinpoint where it originally was — an important distinction because moving a boundary requires the approval of voters in both parishes.

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