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Parish and city fight over road ownership - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Parish and city fight over road ownership, mineral rights the center of debate

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTBS) -

For two years, Caddo Parish and the City of Shreveport have been in court in a dispute over which government will get paid thousands of dollars for natural gas beneath roads and streets annexed into the city limits. Caddo Parish won the case at the state district court level but that decision has now been overruled on appeal. When the Shreveport annexes a road from Caddo Parish it takes on responsibility and control of it. 

That's why city hall believed it had the power to issue mineral rights to Exco for sections of annexed roadway, which the parish had already entered lease agreements on with Chesapeake. The second circuit court of appeal agreed late last month with the city's argument. Donna Frazier, the parish's attorney, still believes ownership lies with the parish.

"Right now, it's just a question of who really owns it and who has the right to lease the minerals," Frazier said. 

Frazier claims the parish owns the land beneath the roads and mineral rights simply because annexation doesn't mean ownership, unless specified. Frazier says no such agreement was made. This case of ownership after annexation is the first of its kind. Its final outcome will set a standard around the state.

"It is a case of first impressions," Frazier said. "It's an issue that has not been litigated before. So, whatever rulings come out of it, they'll probably be followed."

According to court documents, this is a fight over roads that tally up to less than 80 acres of land.

"It doesn't make up a large percentage," Robert Glass, with the parish public works, said. "It might be five acres in a section, just very small amounts."

Such a small parcel of land means the royalty money at the center of the dispute isn't a tremendous amount. Glass doesn't expect the amount to grow dramatically. The Haynesville Shale slowdown is keeping the value low.

"Production has gone down considerably," Glass said. "The prices are still not great."

Frazier says the parish hasn't decided if it wants to have the reversal appealed to the state supreme court.

"I would expect that our tax payers would expect us to explore any and all avenues to guard what is essentially theirs and what essentially benefits the whole," she said.

Of course, Shreveport and Caddo taxpayers are one in the same. The difference is which of their governmental bodies gets to spend the money. The royalty money remains in the hands of the court until final judgement is set. KTBS contacted the City of Shreveport about this story several times but was not provided a comment.

 

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