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More development approved along Burbank corridor despite flooding concerns

2 months 6 days 5 hours ago Monday, September 26 2022 Sep 26, 2022 September 26, 2022 9:34 PM September 26, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - An area along Burbank Drive in Baton Rouge continues to be developed even though there are flooding concerns. Two new America Homeland LLC neighborhoods were approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission last week.

Winter Gardens and Autumn Gardens are planned developments between Sehdeva Memorial Drive and South Kenilworth Parkway made up of about 76 acres each.

Winter Gardens would be made up of 137 lots, or 1.8 lots per acre, and three ponds covering about 30 acres. Autumn Gardens would be 159 lots, or 2.1 lots per acre, and a pond covering about 29 acres of water storage. The developer says the ponds have been designed to exceed the minimum requirements of peak water flow.

The plans were approved because they meet the minimum requirements for the unified development code for the Planning and Zoning Commission. Two commissioners, Jayme Ellender and Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelvin Hill, voted against the approvals. Hill was very candid about his thoughts.

"I can't wrap my head around why we would think this is a good idea," Hill said.

The area is in what's called a special flood hazard area. The area floods, and there is no secret about that. In 2018, there was a delay in approving what's now Kenilworth Crossing because of flooding concerns. The people who live there have experienced street flooding on multiple occasions and have resorted to wading through water to leave.

Hayden Pizzolato says he had no idea the area flooded when he settled into his Kenilworth Crossing home.

"We weren't told anything about this when we moved into the house."

Elbow Bayou has had issues in the past and is sometimes slow to drain. Hill worries the water runoff that will be created from these new developments will exacerbate the problem the parish already has.

"We work daily to try to keep water out of the houses of these residents. This is not something we need to be doing," Hill said. "It strategically is going in the wrong direction."

At least part of the area where these neighborhoods would be built is considered by the Corps of Engineers to be wetlands. Parish records show that in some areas, the land is sitting at 12 feet and it will have to be built up to a base flood elevation of over 19 feet.

"You're going to fill this area up with concrete and rooftop. It is not going to drain the same way that it drains today, and today we already have an issue," Hill said.

The Burbank corridor is no stranger to development. Neighborhoods are popping up on both sides of the street. Many of the completed projects have been finished in the last few years.

The same developer is also proposing a multi-family residential apartment complex in the same area made up of about 312 units. The item is on the agenda for the Oct. 17 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

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