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City leaders hope to re-zone property to kill barge project

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BATON ROUGE - Two city leaders have promised to try and kill a barge cleaning facility from building along the river south of LSU by changing city zoning laws.

Councilman John Delgado said he and Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe will propose re-zoning the area across from Farr Park. Currently, the property is zoned for industrial use. The councilmen would change the zoning to commercial, prohibiting Tubal-Cain Marine Services from building its cleaning operation on the site.

"We need to bring in people who are going to develop the riverfront for its beauty, not as a place to dump chemicals or to clean off barges or to pollute the environment," Delgado said. " It would be more fitting for an area that's right next to a neighborhood."

A handful of neighborhoods are in the area, including Riverbend and Riberbend Landing. Among them, is Rob Baxter who is against the project.

"I'm fearful of a release of pollutants that could not only harm our neighborhood but harm the growth and potential of LSU," he told WBRZ reporter Brittany Weiss in an interview on WBRZ News 2 at 10:00 Monday. "It's just not the right place to put this barge-cleaning facility."

DEQ must approve a permit for the facility, and has pushed back its hearing and commenting period. A meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, but was rescheduled to August 18th. Public commenting on the issue must be complete by August 31st. The council meeting to discuss the zoning change is August 19th.

While the state is allowing people to voice their concerns, it has said a public hearing is not required for the facility since its estimated pollutants are below the level needed to hold public hearings concerning potential permitting. At 25 tons, public discussion is required; Turbal-Cain is estimated to pump out about 20.

"They have VOC's, which are volatile organic compounds, and some other materials but it won't be a major source," DEQ Press Secretary Greg Langley said in a story that first brought the issue to light in February.
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