Sawed-off trailer issue may go before council

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 19, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / April 19, 1999

LAPLACE – The matter of Robert Keller’s trailer encroachment may go before the St. John the Baptist Parish Council at a special meeting nextweek, according to Councilman Dale Wolfe. No firm date has been set forthat meeting, Wolfe said.

On April 12, Keller sawed off nearly 7 feet from one end of his house trailer by court order to remove the encroachment.

The matter involves a May 1995 property sale of land immediately west of the old Jacob General Merchandise Store on West Fifth Street and stretching beyond the length of Nutmeg Street.

New owner Andrew Berthelot asserts when he bought the property, the encroachments from the old store, from a neighbor’s roof overhang and from Keller’s trailer were minor.

However, he successfully argued before 40th Judicial District Judge Mary Hotard Becnel, that it was Keller’s trailer placed in 1996 which became a problem when, Berthelot said, as crossed his property line by 6.78 feet.”It was less than an inch with the trailer,” Berthelot said. “Everybody’smaking me out as the bad guy, but that’s not correct.”He said the other buildings are no problem to his plan to fence off the property and build a house at the front.

Keller insists, on the other hand, that he’s always understood he was allowed by the parish to place his trailer exactly where it sat since 1996.

“When I got the trailer, I was told by Buddy Bailey it was legally placed,” Keller said, saying he was told the trailer did not intrude on the parish road.

Planning director Laurette Thymes, in a September 1997 letter to Berthelot, told him that the trailer, which was reviewed by parish inspectors, did not intrude.

“In August of this year, inspectors from the parish documented that the setbacks conform to parish requirements,” Thymes stated.

Keller’s wife, Althea, observed, “I’m trying to understand how we’re on his property when the parish road does not belong to him.”She added, “He will have a fight. He will not get this land. This landbelongs to us.”The pavement for Nutmeg Street stops short of the end of Keller’s trailer.

Berthelot insists he owns a strip alongside the east side of Nutmeg from West Fifth to beyond Keller’s trailer, encroached by that trailer and its slab, beyond the end of the parish pavement and back along the west side.

Much of the dead-end is taken up by cars under various stages of repair.

Berthelot also hopes that with the fencing of the property, he can persuade the parish there is no need for Nutmeg Street and can dig it up, as the residents are supposed to use Jack Street as their access.

“I’m not attempting to claim Nutmeg,” Berthelot said. “I’m hoping theparish will give it up.”Wolfe, at Tuesday’s Parish Council meeting, said the streets were measured by Bailey and said, “He’s not getting the street back as long as I’m here. This street is a public street and will remain a public street.”Wolfe added of the situation, “I call it a poor demonstration of how one human being can treat another. I call it total harassment.”Thymes commented, “We have no intention of revoking the street,” adding, “My heart goes out to the Kellers.”

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