Mayor Holden hints that council members got cozy with developer
BATON ROUGE - After the Metro Council voted to override Mayor-President Kip Holden's veto of an economic development district in north Baton Rouge, he hinted that some council members might be getting comfortable with developers.
After nearly two hours of discussion Wednesday, eight Metro Council members voted to overrule the mayor, paving the way for the district that will offer benefits for businesses to develop or redevelop property.
The mayor turned down the plan last week, saying there's no real plan, and that it would take money away from the City-Parish. Wednesday he hinted there may be an underlying motive.
"I think it kept coming up because there's an agenda here for a developer," Holden said.
He's talking about a development called Howell Place. It's been in development for years. It was brought up in discussion several times by council members and City-Parish employees.
The land is owned and developed by Maxco-Developments and Richard Preis. His name was brought up several times as well.
Councilman John Delgado sponsored the ordinance, telling WBRZ that he hoped to bring jobs and development to north Baton Rouge. WBRZ asked him about Howell Place after the meeting.
"So Richard Preis and I spoke about this district but I had already presented the plan, so he didn't come to me with a plan or anything like that. Delgado told News 2's Brittany Weiss. "He was one of the main developers in the Howell Place area, and he was able to bring what is considered a real economic engine to north Baton Rouge."
Even though Mayor Holden's veto was overturned, he says he won't lose any sleep. He believes he was right.
"When you have one council person pushing specifically for one area, then I think some eyes and ears should be open because I think that is something," Holden said. "Somebody needs to investigate and find out why they're singling out one area, and I think it's going to benefit them and the other people out there, who think they're going to get a piece of the pie. It's not going to happen. This is only for one developer and that's what they were pushing about."
Council members said that it's not about one developer and say they've already received interest from several.