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Amid flurry of flood zone development requests, planning commission shoots down Burbank subdivision

1 month 15 hours 48 minutes ago Monday, September 20 2021 Sep 20, 2021 September 20, 2021 10:41 PM September 20, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Days after heavy rain brought flooding to areas of the capital city, the East Baton Rouge Planning Commission denied a rezoning request for a subdivision project along Burbank Drive.

Maple Cove, an 11-acre, 60-lot project near University Villas, was one of several potential projects either partially or entirely in the floodplain to be heard Monday evening.

Commissioners noted 24 comments in opposition to the proposal, which sits in the AE flood zone. Concerned residents also highlighted the project would have been constructed entirely on wetlands.

"If this is developed, where is this water going to go," Ben O'Connor, president of the University Villas Homeowners Association, asked the commission. "Again, Bayou Fountain. All [of] these home values are going up, and it's awesome. It's great for the city. But, what good is it going to be if, in a few years, it's going to be flooded? And all the home values are going to tank? No one is going to want to live there."

After public comments wrapped up, one commissioner expressed his concern about continued development in areas already seeing high water during frequent rain events.

"Until I feel like we get the flooding situation in Baton Rouge under control, this is not an area I'm willing to support additional development right now," commissioner Jayme Ellender said.

Mickey Robertson of MR Engineering & Surveying, LLC, representing the project, argued Monday's agenda item only dealt with the rezoning. He promised additional plans, including drainage specifications should the commission approve the request.

Robertson, who has spearheaded several other residential developments along Burbank Drive, said this latest request was identical to what has previously asked for and approved.

The commission denied the rezoning at Ellender's request, though one commissioner objected.

"[We're] seeing more evidence that we do have some drainage concerns," Ellender said. "I think that with the council changing some of the ordinances here recently, I think that even more confirms it. Until we get a better understanding and address some of our drainage concerns across that southern part of the parish, we really need to look hard at each development."

Another project Robertson is working on was deferred for 30 days. Silverside Cove, a 22.5-acre, 81-lot subdivision along Staring Lane, would also sit entirely in the AE flood zone. Outstanding drainage issues with DPW led to the delay.

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