St. Martin Parish Government (SMPG) District 6 Councilman Brook Champagne, speaking at the August 3, 2021, SMPG Council meeting, makes the emphatic statement that farmer and constituent Billy Broussard is “violating the zoning ordinance, and there’s no doubt about it!”
We really can’t blame anyone not living in St. Martin Parish or with ties to it for failing to pay much attention to our initial feature of alleged bullying by Louisiana State Police Trooper Scott Lopez wherein he forbid one of farmer Billy Broussard’s drivers to ever drive down “my road” again.
Again, we also can’t blame those without St. Martin Parish ties for not investing much time in our follow-up feature in which we outlined what appears to be a very well-organized conspiracy to shut down the operations of farmer Billy Broussard.
Likewise, we can’t really fault anyone without St. Martin Parish ties for missing out on our third feature in the series exposing Broussard’s attorney’s response to what certainly appears to quite likely be an illegal restraining order issued by the St. Martin Parish Government (SMPG) and, more specifically, Parish President Chester Cedars, which shut down the farming operations of Billy Broussard.
By our own admission, the features were certainly lengthy. Nevertheless, they are in full conformity with our policy of only publishing material for which we have conducted extensive and in-depth research. For the benefit of those who chose to skip segments 1-3 linked above on this series, we’re going to make life real simple for you if you’d like to get caught up in no time flat.
How will we do that? Simple. What follows is an 8-minute video of highlights of SMPG President Chester Cedars forcefully advocating for an ordinance which he convinced the SMPG Council to pass that would give him (at least he likely mistakenly thought) the legal authority to shut Broussard’s operations down! Here is that 8-minute highlight video complete with on-screen captions which succinctly state Broussard’s attorney’s contentions as to why Cedars and the SMPG were likely on shaky legal ground in pursuing the actions Cedars pursued:
8-minute video highlights of Cedars, his seemingly very cozy relationship with another tree service company and Broussard competitor, and repeated instances of Cedars convincing the SMPG Council that the body was on solid legal ground when, in fact, that ground ultimately appears to have turned out to be more like quicksand for the reasons presented in the captions on the video.
Now, at the conclusion of the third installment, we stated how anxiously we awaited being able to attend the court hearing scheduled for Tuesday, September 14, 2021 and at which SMPG sought to convert what now appears to be a quite-likely illegal Temporary Restraining Order into a Preliminary Injunction. We stated that we’d be filming outside the courthouse to let our subscribers and site visitors know just how things turned out.
Well, we were denied that opportunity. Why? Because SMPG officials contacted Broussard’s attorney the day before the hearing, Monday, September 13, 2021, and indicated that they were prepared to make major concessions in exchange for the hearing being canceled. In our firm opinion, this was a straight-up effort to try and shield the SMPG from the obvious liability they face from engaging in Cedars’ renegade actions! It’s literally that simple!
From what we’re told, SMPG officials met with Broussard and his attorney the next day and indicated that, if he would merely complete an “application” (apparently for zoning variance notwithstanding that Broussard and his legal team dispute the need for any “variance” as they contend no zoning violation has transpired), they are essentially assuring him that the application for the zoning variance will be approved at a yet-to-be-scheduled hearing in November of 2021.
In our opinion, this whole exercise is nothing more than an effort for SMPG officials to be able to state, after approval of the questionably-necessary zoning variance, that, “It’s just like we told Mr. Broussard. If he’d just followed our ‘process,’ we never would have had to sue him in the first place!” Broussard has contended all along that going through the “process” is, “complicated since we are not running a business from that address but instead doing private farming and agriculture.”
Our own observations about the motivation for SMPG officials engaging in the action they did in totally caving and calling off their own court-requested hearing notwithstanding, it appears Broussard is willing to extend more courtesy to the SMPG and its “process” than we believe we would be able to muster were we faced with the circumstances to which he has been subjected.
From what we’ve been told, agreement has been reached by both parties, with the essential elements of that agreement itemized as follow:
1) proceeding with any “zoning variance application” is strictly an attempt at compromise;
2) any completion of the application is not an admission of guilt of a zoning violation by Broussard; furthermore, SMPG officials recognize that Broussard flatly denies that he has violated any zoning ordinance of the SMPG;
3) no material contained within the application nor any statements at public hearings entailing the application may be used as evidence for any litigation entailing Broussard (except any appeal by Broussard of any zoning ruling by SMPG);
4) Broussard disputes that the Duchamp Road property is zoned “R2” (mixed residential), and that, by filling in a blank on the zoning variance application regarding existing zoning as “R2,” Broussard does not infer concurrence with that zoning, and filling in that line with “R2” shall not be admissible in any litigation entailing Broussard;
5) Entering the requested zoning “change to” (from “R2”) does not infer that any zoning change is needed for Broussard to conduct his current activities on his property, and filling in the “change to” line on the application shall not be an admission that the property needs to be rezoned nor may the placing of a designation in that blank be admissible in court regarding any Broussard litigation.
We’ll also point out that SMPG officials told Broussard to, “go ahead and resume the activities you were engaging in prior to us issuing the C & D letter and subsequently filing the restraining order.”
We’ll ask our subscribers and site visitors: Is that pretty much a T-total cave by SMPG officials, or what?
After all, when one issues a questionably-legal C & D letter, subsequently files a quite-likely illegal Restraining Order, requests a cancellation of the Preliminary Injunction court hearing originally sought by that entity, then gives a wink and a nod to the pre-Restraining-Order activities in full, we’ll use some of Cedars’ own words: “Don’t know what you call that, but we call that a T-total cave!”
This apparently very kind gesture on Broussard’s part notwithstanding, we will continue monitoring this whole sordid scandal until its conclusion to include videotaping any hearing for the questionably-necessary “zoning change,” and the submission of that requested zoning change before the SMPG full Council (assuming it passes the Planning and Zoning Committee).
There is one side benefit for us entailing this delay. That benefit will be that, by the time of the zoning hearing, we will have either received the body-cam video of LSP Trooper Scott Lopez for the afternoon of Monday, June 14, 2021 when he allegedly stopped one of Broussard’s drivers and stated to him, “You better not drive down MY road again if you know what’s good for you,” or a statement from Louisiana State Police (LSP) that no such video is available.
If it turns out to be the latter (i.e. that no body-cam video exists for that 6/14/21 alleged encounter with Lopez), that will apparently be yet one more instance of an LSP Trooper (Lopez in this case) selectively violating LSP’s own body-worn camera policy on which we requested the latest version.
As indicated on the just-linked document, the latest LSP body-worn camera policy is dated March 1, 2021. The folk with extensive LSP knowledge whom we’ve asked for guidance on that policy summed their observations up with, “there sure are a ton of ‘shalls’ in that policy!”
Stay tuned for the next episode of farmer Billy Broussard’s encounters with the SMPG and its President, Chester Cedars!
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