Judge Denies Move to Stop Grambling State University Construction

GRAMBLING La.

A district court judge denied a move by the town of Grambling to stop housing construction at Grambling State University. But, according to the attorney representing GSU’s third-party financier, construction on the project already has been completed.

The city claims the university should have paid almost $400,000 in permit fees among them plumbing, electrical and inspection fees as construction began on Tiger Village, which represents phase one of GSU’s student housing redevelopment plan.

The city’s original petition calls for a restraining order that would keep the university from placing students in the new Tiger Village campus apartments and halt “any further construction.”

But 5th District Court Judge Cynthia Woodard denied on Sept. 11 a temporary restraining order filed on the city’s behalf to keep the university from placing students in Tiger Village, or as they’re referred to in the petition filed Sept. 10, “unfinished and incomplete dormitories.”

“But before it was filed, the state Fire Marshal had already issued the certificates of occupancy,” said state Rep. Rick Gallot, who is representing the nonprofit third party financier, Black and Gold Facilities Inc. “So the request for injunction was moot from the beginning. They would have had to stop construction that was already complete.”

Woodard dismissed the injunction request on Friday because the town had no legal right to bring suit on behalf of Grambling students over the age of 18, Gallot said.

According to the petition, Black and Gold Facilities donated the property to the state but maintained possession of all the property improvements and, therefore, maintained possession of the buildings themselves.

“Because Black and Gold Facilities Inc. are the owners of the buildings located on the campus of Grambling State University, they are subject to the same requirements and must comply with city ordinances as are required by any other entity doing business in the city of Grambling,” the petition reads.

“The crux of their argument was that the state owns the ground but that the nonprofit actually owns the building, and that’s why they must pay the building permit fees,” Gallot said.

Under Louisiana Revised Statute 17:3361, any lease of university property on or after Jan. 1, 2007, to a nonprofit corporation in this case Black and Gold for the purpose of construction improvements is subject to oversight by the state Office of Facility Planning and Control.

In addition to an injunction request, the second part of the city’s case called for a declaratory judgment as to whether GSU’s developer, Ambling University Development Group, owed the town those building permit fees.

“That was the part where we actually started the trial on,” Gallot said. “We broke for lunch and when we returned, the city had decided to drop the case.”

Grambling Mayor Martha Andrus did would not return calls Saturday.

–Associated Press



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