Judge rules Iberville Parish allowed to expropriate Alligator Bayou property

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South

PLAQUEMINE - 18th Judicial District Judge J. Robin Free ruled May 28 in favor of Iberville Parish Government in a suit to expropriate 1.16 acres of land from an Ascension Parish man.

Parish officials have attempted to obtain the land since 2011 for a project to improve drainage with an upgrade to a floodgate on Alligator Bayou. When those efforts failed a suit followed.

Free’s ruling followed a two-day bench trial and requires the parish pay owner Frank Bonifay $72,544 for the land.

Bonifay is the owner of the now defunct Alligator Bayou Swamp Tours and owns more than 1,200 acres in the Spanish Lake Basin.

His property along Manchac Road includes the parcel of land at the center of the dispute and the Frog Bayou floodgate in Ascension.

Bonifay has claimed that since the locks were opened thrice within the last five years flooding the basin, it has devalued his property and forced his swamp tours out of business.

The parish sought Bonifay’s property because the floodgate is too small to adequately control drainage from east Iberville residents into the basin.

The lawsuit claims vegetation on the property clogged the floodgate causing backups and flooding in areas of increased growth and development, especially during heavy rains.

The parish is planning to mitigate flood control by using $2.3 million in federal funds to upgrade the floodgate and spruce up the waterway. Those plans are in the design phase.