LSU confirms it has been approached about annexation into B.R.

LSU confirms it has been approached about annexation into B.R.

LSU officials have been approached about petitioning the city of Baton Rouge to annex two large tracts of university-owned property that are outside the city limits—including 2,269 acres of farmland on Ben Hur that are adjacent to L'Auberge Casino. LSU interim vice president for communications Jason Droddy tells Daily Report "the suggestion has been brought forward to LSU President King Alexander and we are considering it."

Droddy was unable to say who floated the suggestion or whether the request was made by phone or in person. The potential annexation of the LSU property—which also includes the 120-acre Innovation Park near Gardere—would be extremely significant in the battle over the proposed incorporation of a new city of St. George.

That's because it would clear the way for L'Auberge—which is not in the city and is one of the biggest sources of sales tax revenue in the parish—to also apply for annexation.

A property outside the city limits must be contiguous to city property in order to apply for annexation. Supporters of the St. George incorporation effort have based their proposed city budget on the inclusion of sales tax dollars generated by such heavy-hitters as L'Auberge, the Mall of Louisiana and Perkins Rowe, all of which are in the unincorporated portion of the parish. Should those businesses apply for and become annexed into Baton Rouge, the St. George financial model would be seriously imperiled.

While the battle over St. George has quieted some in recent weeks, opponents of the proposed incorporation—which include a growing number of prominent business leaders—have been quietly raising money behind the scenes. Businessman Mike Polito is reportedly spearheading those efforts under the auspices of a nonprofit group called Community Issues.

So far, the funds raised are being used to cover the legal costs associated with the annexation issue, which includes researching the properties and negotiating with property and business owners.

Attorney Charles Landry, who incorporated Community Issues late last year, declines to discuss the annexation issue, citing attorney-client privilege.

It is unclear if or when LSU will petition the city to annex the Ben Hur and Innovation Park properties. The issue was not discussed at the January LSU Board of Supervisors meeting and is not on the agenda for the March 21 meeting, though it could still be added. The board's approval would be needed in order for LSU to request annexation of its property.

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