FENCED IN: Divider put up by Pineville church next to a local business splitting the community

Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 6:18 PM CDT
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PINEVILLE, La. (KALB) - A fence put up between Pelican Seafood & Poboy and a parking lot the Heart of Worship church in Pineville claims it owns off of Highway 28 East has caused grief for the restaurant’s owner, Brian Wu.

“It has already blocked the entire parking lot and drive thru way,” said Wu. “The customers are unable to go through the drive thru and we only have one entrance without an exit. This is impossible for business, we have lost so many customers, we cannot survive in this situation.”

The fence, marked with no trespassing signs, means customers at the restaurant only have limited parking in front of the restaurant. The fence also blocks the drive thru and wheelchair accessible entrance.

The barricade next to the local restaurant has signs that read "Private Property: No Trespassing"
The barricade next to the local restaurant has signs that read "Private Property: No Trespassing"(KALB)

The divider is literally splitting members of the community - and even drove one man to knock the fence down on Friday, who claimed the pastor of Heart of Worship is “not a man of God, he’s a liar.”

Mike Bordelon, the owner of the building the restaurant operates out of, shared that he has leased the building to restaurants since the early 2000s without any problems. He claimed that currently, Heart of Worship is demanding tenants in the area pay a monthly fee to use the parking lot - a fee that Bordelon and Wu refuse to pay.

“I had a tenant that didn’t speak the best English, so they realized that I wasn’t going to pay them, so they went to him and said ‘Hey today’s price is $300, tomorrow it will be $600.’ It’s just they way they’re going about it - it’s all about money to them,” said Bordelon.

So, who owns this section of the parking lot? KALB went to the Rapides Parish Courthouse to find the answer.

The Rapides Parish Assessor’s Office and the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court gave KALB a copy of the deeds and records of the land in question. According to those documents, the section of the parking lot at the center of the dispute is a parcel of land known as a predial servitude.

The gray area on the map that represents predial servitude the means that in the past, the area could have been used for another purpose. This could be anything from a billboard to a drive thru for a former restaurant, through an agreement between previous owners.

This map from the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court shows the predial servitude (marked by the gray...
This map from the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court shows the predial servitude (marked by the gray area) between Heart of Worship and Pelican Seafood & Poboy.(KALB)

Officials could not give KALB a definite answer on what predial servitude was intended for, but it is still technically included in the parcel of land owned by the church.

The Rapides Parish Clerk of Court was able to confirm that the areas of land behind Pelican Seafood & Poboy that are also considered predial servitudes are servitudes of passage. Those agreements date back to 1974, and mean the church wouldn’t be able to put up a fence in those areas.

The Rapides Parish Clerk of Court is still working to figure out the intended purpose for the part of the parking lot at the center of this dispute.

Whatever the answer may be - Wu hopes the two parties can come to a better solution.

“For the church side, I don’t think much cost for them - nearly nothing, but for me, this will make my business survive. It will kill this small business,” said Wu.

KALB has tried to get in contact with Heart of Worship Pastor Keith Dickens by phone, email, and an in person visit to the church, but we have not heard back. One church administrator said they wouldn’t comment on the dispute.

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