Smart-growth advocate receives death threat

Saturday, June 05, 2004
By Charlie Chapple
St. Tammany bureau

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office confirmed Friday that it is investigating a recent telephone death threat against George Hopkins Jr. of Covington, an advocate of smart growth in St. Tammany Parish.

Hopkins said Friday that he thinks the threat, made May 27 from a cell phone in Slidell, stems from his opposition to Timber Branch II, a controversial subdivision south of Covington. And he said he thinks the threat is connected to someone involved with the development, an allegation that was denied Friday by Paul Mayronne, attorney for the project.

Hopkins, an architect and planner who is chairman of the New Directions 2025 Land Use Committee, joined a group of residents calling themselves "Advocates of Smart Growth" who sued the parish last week contesting the recent approval of conceptual plans for Timber Branch II.

The next day at 11:56 a.m., Hopkins said he received the threatening call at his Metairie business office. He said the male caller told him, "You f -- -- - us one time too many. You're a dead m -- -- -- -- -- -."

Hopkins said he and his secretary used the office phone system to identify the number and location of the telephone call, and then called the Jefferson Parish's Sheriff's Office.

He said the timing of the call indicates the threat is directly related to someone associated with Timber Branch II, a 276-home subdivision proposed near the Tchefuncte River.

But Mayronne disputes the claim.

"I don't doubt that George got the call," Mayronne said. "But it would absolutely floor me if it had anything to do with Timber Branch. It certainly didn't have anything to do with the principals involved."

The major players in the development are the Plaunche and Hand families, who own the development site, project engineer Kelly McHugh and himself, Mayronne said.

"I might disagree with George, but my gracious . . . " Mayronne said when told about the threat.

Hopkins, a former president of Save St. Tammany and a former member of the parish Planning and Zoning commissions, said he was contacted by the FBI Friday and questioned about the incident.


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