BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Recently filed court documents reveal the relationship between developer U.L. Coleman and Bossier City leaders are not as friendly as previously thought, at least from the developer's perspective.
New construction projects are popping up in South Bossier City as a result of a lawsuit that was settled in 2012. The city is working to comply with building requirements that came out of a lawsuit settlement with developer UL Coleman Company, who sued in 2008 after being denied direct access to the Arthur Teague Parkway for their new "Walker Place" mixed-use development.
A representative from U.L. Coleman Company, Bossier City and a federal judge have been meeting at the federal courthouse periodically for progress meetings to hash out the details of construction projects that came out of their lawsuit settlement.
Though, working together in a public-private venture, recent filings by U.L. Coleman Company reveal the process has not been exactly smooth.
Two documents recently filed into Federal Court by U.L. Coleman Company claim Bossier City is not following the consent decree of the lawsuit settlement.
Two weeks after the story aired, the developer filed a motion on July 17 alleging, "The story refers to minutes and other information from confidential, private progress meetings."
Attorney John Settle is completely independent from the lawsuit settlement, but at our request, took a look at the motion to get his professional opinion about the court document that insinuates city leaders leaked the documents to the media.
The court document reads, "The only way for KSLA to obtain all of this information would be from city officials or its consultant project manager Mike McSwain."
"When you have records in open court, when they are minutes, they are open to the public," Settle explained.
Contrary to what the motion alleges, city officials actually declined to give us the more detailed meeting minutes on March 3, 2015, compared to the more vague minutes kept by the court.
"In regard to the other information you requested - since the it concerns proceedings that are being conducted under the direction of federal court, the court would be the appropriate entity to contact for that information," Bossier City Spokesman Mark Natale said in an email at that time.
What the motion does not include, is most information about what happens in federal court, including the progress meetings, can be found on federal website: www.Pacer.gov.
PACER is short for "Public Access To Court Electronic Records" is a website where anybody with an account can view federal court case and docket information, including meeting minutes from every single progress meeting held between U.L. Coleman Company and Bossier City.
"I believe any and all information in open court should be available to the public," said Settle.
The developer's motion asks the judge if information from the progress meetings, if any, may be released to the media. Settle does not think the judge will block the information from the public's view.
"Rarely when you have public dollars, and a public entity involved, are you going to have any reasonable basis at all to seal the documents, unless it would be a national defense matter or something of that nature," he said.
In a separate motion filed Friday, the developer outlines more allegations referring to how they feel, "the actions of the City of Bossier City officials in recent months clearly demonstrates direct violation and bad faith performance of the Consent Decree and the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement."
The developer claims in the motion: "The recent release of information to the press purposely misleading the citizens of South Bossier as to the actions of ULCC as to the Walker Place Park in an intentional effort to discourage the citizens of Bossier City from participating in the Walker Place Development."
The document goes on to to say the city would save $10.4 million in infrastructure costs for the Walker Place Development, should the development be killed.
"The current coldly calculated, well-orchestrated actions of the city officials is yet a third strike against ULCC," the developer alleges in the motion.
"At this point, the Court should recognize that 'three strikes and you are out' and thereby awarding sanctions, attorney's fees and costs as a result of this premeditated ongoing conduct," it continued.
We reached out to both the U.L. Coleman Company and Bossier City about the newly submitted court documents.
U.L. Coleman spokesman Emily Mott released this statement saying: "Thank you for the opportunity to comment about the two motions filed with Judge Hicks on Friday. It is the decision of the U.L. Coleman Companies not to comment on this issue while it is being worked through."
Bossier City spokesman Mark Natale released this statement saying: "It is the city administration's position that the appropriate venue in which to respond to any motion filed in a federal court proceeding is the federal court."
The second multi-page court document titled "Motion to Enforce Consent Decree and Cooperative Endeavor Agreement" outlines several allegations against Bossier City, claiming city leaders have been scheming ways to kill the Walker Place Development.