Lawsuit filed against City of Leesville over 2013 zoning change

LEESVILLE -- A lawsuit has been filed against the City of Leesville, challenging the city's action on a zoning change adopted in July 2013.

The suit, filed last month by Teddy Dowden and Donna Sheryl Chance Dowden, alleges that the city's action to change property they own from A-9 Apartment District to C-3 Neighborhood Commercial District diminished property value and was "arbitrary and capricious." They seek damages.

The Dowdens own property in the Allendale Subdivision. Their intent was to construction a new apartment complex where "an older complex had fallen into significant disrepair," according to the suit.

The suit states that in October 2012, Teddy Dowden submitted a site plan review. While that was pending, the city reportedly filed their zoning change request. Dowden alleges that a meeting in May 2013 on the matter was held illegally.

"Notices had not been properly advertised and posted," the suit states. "At this hearing, no expert reports, statistical evaluations, or other studies were introduced which would indicate that plaintiff's intended development would be adverse to the public health, safety, or general welfare."

The zoning change was adopted on July 8, 2013 by the Leesville City Council.

"Additionally, as the aforementioned zoning change occurred while plaintiffs' Application for Site Plan Review was still pending, the City of Leesville has deprived plaintiff of a vested right and liberty interest without due process," the suit states.

The zoning change, adopted in an ordinance, was largely supported by residents of the Allendale Subdivision, many of whom turned out to speak at the meeting on the matter. You can read the minutes of that meeting HERE.

Some of the residents expressed that they did not feel current infrastructure -- sewer and water -- would support such a development.

The change was also approved by the city's planning and zoning commission.

The Dowdens are represented by Lake Charles attorney Billy E. Loftin Jr.

A lawsuit presents the grievance of one party against others. It does not present both sides of the issue in question.
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