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Concerned Citizens of Eastover, LLC v. Eastover Neighborhood Improvement and Security District

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

March 22, 2017

CONCERNED CITIZENS OF EASTOVER, LLC
v.
EASTOVER NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT AND SECURITY DISTRICT, ET AL

         APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2013-10061, DIVISION "B" Honorable Regina H. Woods, Judge

          Ernest S. Anderson Joseph P. Anderson ANDERSON & ANDERSON COUNSEL FOR CHARLES J. COCHRANE AND MADALYN M. COCHRANE, PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS

          Albert A. Thibodeaux Daniel E. Davillier DAVILLIER LAW GROUP, LLC COUNSEL FOR EASTOVER NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT AND SECURITY, DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          Court composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu, Judge Marion F. Edwards, Pro Tempore

          Marion F. Edwards, Pro Tempore Judge

         Plaintiffs/Appellants, Charles J. Cochrane, Sr. and Madalyn M. Cochrane, appeal a declaratory judgment of the district court that found La. R.S. 33:9091.21, which created the Eastover Neighborhood Improvement and Security District, constitutional. For the following reasons, we hereby affirm.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND FACTS

         Mr. and Mrs. Cochrane ("Plaintiffs") own Lot 13, Square G, in the Eastover Subdivision in Orleans Parish. On October 24, 2013, Concerned Citizens of Eastover, LLC, filed a petition challenging the constitutionality of House Bill 323, Louisiana Act 24 and Proposed Revised Statute 33:9091.21. According to the Eastover Subdivision Newsletter, authored and published by the Eastover Property Owners Association ("EPOA") Board of Directors, dated September 25, 2013, House Bill 323 was proposed for the following reasons, in pertinent part:

House Bill 323, which creates the Eastover Neighborhood Improvement and Security District, will be on the November 16, 2013, general election ballot for resident approval. . . [t]his creates an opportunity that will facilitate the collection of association dues (assessment) from all property owners. This bill does not increase your assessments, but rather will allow for the annual billing of assessments via the City of New Orleans property tax billing system and would be effective for 2014.
The EPOA [Eastover Property Owners Association] has approximately three hundred (300) properties. Two hundred (200) owners are seriously committed to our community and are paying their assessments. The remaining one hundred (100) properties are owned by the developer, banks, speculators and homeowners who actually reside in Eastover's Subdivision. Owners who are not paying their assessments reduce our EPOA's budget by more than $125, 000 per year. This places a financial burden on our Association's ability to meet our financial obligations and does not provide adequate funds for improvements.
When we further analyze the one hundred (100) Eastover property owners who are not paying assessments, approximately 45 of them live in Eastover and apparently refuse to pay their assessments. House Bill 323 will require all property owners to pay their EPOA assessments when they pay their property taxes.

         Prior to being submitted to the voters of Eastover Subdivision (Precinct 44), La. R.S. 33:9091.21 became effective on June 12, 2013, as a result of the filing of House Bill 323 in the 2013 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature.[1]

         La. R.S. 33:9091.21 Eastover Neighborhood Improvement and Security District provides, as follows:

A. Creation. There is hereby created within the parish of Orleans, as more specifically provided in Subsection B of this Section, a body politic and corporate which shall be known as the Eastover Neighborhood Improvement and Security District, referred to in this Section as the "district". The district shall be a political subdivision of the state as defined in the Constitution of Louisiana.
B. Boundaries. (1) The district shall be comprised of all property located in Eastover Subdivision within the following boundaries: the northern boundary is the northern boundary of the Eastover Subdivision, the southern boundary is Dwyer Road, the eastern boundary is the I-10 Service Road, and the western boundary is the Jahncke Canal.
(2) The property located at 5690 Eastover Drive shall not be included in the district as long as a sales and administration office is located on the property and the office is available to the board to conduct its business.
C. Purpose. The district is established for the primary object and purpose of promoting and encouraging the beautification, security, and overall betterment of the district.
D. Governance. (1) In order for the orderly development and effectuation of the services to be furnished by the district and to provide for the representation in the affairs of the district of those persons and interests immediately concerned with and affected by the purposes and development of the area included within the district, the affairs of the district shall be managed by the members of the Eastover Property Owner's Association's board of directors, referred to in this Section as the "board".
(2) The minute books and archives of the district shall be maintained by the board's secretary. The monies, funds, and accounts of the district shall be in the official custody of the board.
(3) The duties of the officers shall be fixed by bylaws adopted by the board. The board shall adopt such rules and regulations as it deems necessary or advisable for conducting its business affairs. It shall hold regular meetings as shall be provided in the bylaws and may hold special meetings at such times and places within the district as may be prescribed in the bylaws.
(4)A majority of the members of the board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The board shall keep minutes of all meetings and shall make them available through the board's secretary to residents of the district.
(5) The members of the board shall serve without compensation.
E. Powers and duties. The district, acting through the board, shall have the following ...

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