Lawsuit: City’s Promises to VA in Violation of City Charter

City Charter violations include failure to hold hearings

The City, under the direction of Mayor C. Ray Nagin, repeatedly violated the New Orleans City Charter in promising to seize private property and close public streets for a proposed Department of Veteran Affairs hospital, according to a lawsuit filed earlier today in Civil District Court.

The petition states that the City Charter provisions and state law requiring public hearings before the City Planning Commission and City Council were euserped by the Mayor when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the VA hospital in 2007. The MOU stipulates that the city will turn a 34-acre section of the Lower Mid City neighborhood, including its streets, into a “construction ready” site for the VA hospital. He  promised to demolish businesses and houses and remove city infrastructure, while making the site shovel ready. Furthermore, the mayor agreed that the city would pay up to $5 million in penalties to VA if the promises were not fulfilled by November 2009.

Because the Mayor failed to follow procedures spelled out in the City Charter, the lawsuit asks the court to void the MOU and to immediately hault the unauthorized promises spelled out in the agreement.

To view the press release issued on behalf of Smart Growth for Louisiana and Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, visit Save Charity Hospital’s website. The lawsuit is also available online here.

(Cross-posted at Preservation Resource Center’s blog.)

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