The 9News I-team has learned the annexation of the Mall of Louisiana and Baton Rouge General Hospital on Bluebonnet Avenue is on hold until a judge holds a trial.
Both Baton Rouge General and the Mall of Louisiana were slated to be annexed into Baton Rouge city limits on Friday, June 13 after the East Baton Rouge Metro Council approved a measure on May 14th for the annexation.
Woody Jenkins, a newspaper editor and former state representative, filed a suit Thursday saying areas outside of Baton Rouge city limits were improperly annexed using a "donut-holed effect that left out almost every property owner who refused to sign the petition." It went on to say the Baton Rouge Police Department would be responsible for covering the newly annexed areas without extra funding needed for the additional manpower.
Jenkins said, "Annexing The Mall of Louisiana and the Baton Rouge General is like taking responsibility for a small city because the population of The Mall and the General at any given time can exceed 5,000 people. The Metro Council adopted this bizarre annexation without hearing from the Budget office, BRPD, or the fire department. It didn't consider the costs, a budget, a timeline, or a plan. It's unreasonable and an embarrassment to the city. My fear is that BRPD officers will be pulled out of high crime areas to provide coverage to The Mall. The Sheriff is already providing protection to The Mall. Why duplicate what he is doing?"
The I-team reported on Monday that an officer from BRPD's District 2 would be assigned specifically to cover the Mall of Louisiana and Baton Rouge General effective June 13, 2014. In addition to the roughly 5,000 calls District 2 already handles monthly, the newly annexed areas would add between 100-150 calls.
The I-team has also learned that an officer from District 1 was temporarily transferred to cover the Mall of Louisiana on Tuesday, June 10, which was to take effect on Friday, June 13. But on Thursday, June 12, that officer's transfer was reversed, putting him back to District 1 and no officer assigned to the Mall of Louisiana. Instead, deputies from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office will continue patrolling the area, as they already do, while the annexation is on hold.
Judge Janice Clark will now have to hold a trial. If the annexation is upheld , the annexation will take effect 10 days after Judge Clark signs that order. But if the plaintiffs file a suspensive appeal, the hold will remain in place while the appeal goes up to the appeal's court, and the plaintiffs would be required to put up a bond.