Flooding concerns at helm of proposed neighborhood
BATON ROUGE - A Planning and Zoning meeting stands between a neighborhood's concerns and proposed residential development.
There are about 78 acres of land for sale in Sherwood Forest north of Jones Creek. The old Sherwood Forest Country Club has had the eye of developer Art Lancaster for a while. After several community meetings, residents living around the proposed development say they still have plenty of concerns. That's because a large portion of Sherwood Forest flooded in 2016 and they worry that with the development and it's proposed design they'll be worse off than they were before.
Kathy Balhoff loves the open land behind her house because she's been looking at it for the last 40 years.
"This land is very precious to us," Balhoff said.
When the Sherwood Forest Country Club closed in 2013, the land was purchased by the Dornier family. It's now mainly open acreage and a tennis club, The Legacy at Bonne Esperance. With the offer on the table to sell, the developer is looking to change the zoning.
"We are not against smart development," Balhoff said. "Mr. Dornier owns the Lakes of Legacy and it's zoned A-1, we want it to remain A-1."
The developer is trying to change the zoning from A1 to A2.7, which would allow for more houses and smaller lot sizes. The neighborhood proposed has 276 lots and a couple of neighborhood entrances. That zoning change presents some concerns for Balhoff and her neighbors. One is how it'll affect their home values. Another is increased traffic for the neighborhood and busy two-lane Sherwood Forest Blvd. And the big one is flooding. The land will have to be brought up to code to meet base flood elevation, which could mean raising land by as much as six feet in some areas.
The estimated flood inundation area from 2016 put together by the City-Parish shows that floodwater covered the majority of what could become the new neighborhood.
"All that is concreted, we lose our huge sponge that nature has provided us," Balhoff said.
Tuesday, 2 On Your Side reached out to the developer and did not hear back. The planning and zoning meeting is Monday, Nov. 18, at 5 p.m. downtown Baton Rouge.