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Councilman, neighbor at odds over property enhancement project

BATON ROUGE - An East Baton Rouge Metro Councilman is at odds with his neighbors. Their property dispute is full of twists and turns and involves a councilman's backyard oasis at a property outside of his district.

The property is near Millerville Road and S. Flannery Road in Sherwood Manor Subdivision. Eugene Michelli lives next door and says he's been living in a mess for months.

"He started remodeling his driveway and his cabana and pool yard probably mid-October."

Watch the 2 On Your Side report live on Channel 2 and WBRZ+ at 6:00

Michelli says those property improvements are the source of his stress that's bleeding his pocketbook dry.

"The way he built the roof, it just pours into our property bad," Michelli said. "The water pours out from under the fence."

Michelli says his neighbor's property improvements are washing away his land, pushing dirt onto the sidewalk and into the street. It's also flooded his house. The water came into the house during the May 2021 storm, which caused many people to flood in Baton Rouge. Now he's got two sump-pumps to prevent it from happening again, and until there's a solution, he's worried about installing new floors.

He says he's suffered at least $25,000 in damages.

"And then I asked him not to put that fence up because that fence would be on my property - he put it up anyway," Michelli said.

His neighbor, District 6 Metro Councilman Cleve Dunn, tells 2 On Your Side that he's not responsible for the flooding concerns his neighbor has and that Michelli never flooded before and hasn't flooded since that May storm.

But the City-Parish seems to think there's an issue. The parish has failed Dunn's property on multiple inspections. The latest one was on Friday, Sept. 17. The inspection says that violations—including a fence that appears to be over the property line, a structure that's built too close to the servitude, and a driveway that's too wide—still exist on the property.

An inspection from July 23 says the driveway was installed without a permit, rainwater is draining onto the adjacent property, the outdoor kitchen exterior wall is not fire-rated, and there's a new electrical sub-panel with outlets and switches.

The subdivision's restrictions and building conditions state that no building shall be located on any lot nearer to the side property line than eight feet.

A City-Parish building official tells 2 On Your Side the work is not permitted. Dunn had applied for a permit, but there was not enough information supplied. The parish says Dunn needs construction and site plans. So far, Dunn hasn't been able to supply them.

Michelli had his property surveyed and sent the survey to the City-Parish for review. He maintains that this could all be fixed but so far cannot get his neighbor or the City-Parish to act in the way he's been hoping.

"He won't speak to me, so I don't know if we can make a compromise," he said.

Dunn declined to do an interview with 2 On Your Side but says he plans to meet with the parish soon about the issue. The City-Parish says it works with property owners in good faith to address code violations, and if there's a standstill, the matter will be referred to the parish attorney.

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