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Parish president threatens to build wall over downstream impact from EBR developments

11 months 2 days 15 hours ago Monday, November 19 2018 Nov 19, 2018 November 19, 2018 5:33 PM November 19, 2018 in News
Source: WBRZ

PLAQUEMINE- Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso is threatening to "build a wall" if development in East Baton Rouge continues without consulting his parish about the downstream impacts.

Ourso sent a strongly worded letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers voicing the parish's objections to a proposed residential development located off Burbank Drive near South Kenilworth Parkway in Baton Rouge. Much of the area that was green-lighted by the planning commission for development sits in a special flood hazard area.

The letter states: "The 'placement of 97,000 cubic yards of fill material' in lowlands, presumably the local floodplain, 'to achieve grade'....for the proposed project seems counterintuitive to our ongoing efforts with US Congress, and the Federal and State Agencies who are diligently working and allocating federal and state funding to help protect our existing commercial and residential entities from future flood damages, disaster, and emergencies."

"They say Trump's going to build a wall," Ourso said. "The Parish of Iberville is going to have to build a wall sooner or later."

Ourso and the council are frustrated with the lack of concern for the downstream impacts of development in East Baton Rouge. They believe the development exacerbated flooding in parts of St. Gabriel and parts of Ascension Parish in August of 2016.

On Tuesday, the Iberville Parish Council will take up a resolution objecting to the Army Corps of Engineers issuing a permit for the development in East Baton Rouge.

"We understand that project is going to be in a low-lying wetlands area," Chairman of the Council Matt Jewel said. "We don't need any more water coming down on Iberville Parish."

Ourso said any sort of wall would be extremely costly to the parish, but he added it would likely mitigate future flood events in his parish in the future. In the meantime, he said the aquadams will remain ready. They were purchased after the August 2016 flood to hold water back in Bayou Manchac.

Ourso added he's not against progress but wants to make sure that any future development is considered with the impacts it will have on everyone else.

"East Baton Rouge keeps telling me about aquadams, and they keep building," Ourso said. "Instead of the aquadams being 2.5 feet maybe they need to be five feet. They keep contributing to the issue. I'm not anti-development....I want good development."

The parish council will take up the resolution on Tuesday at 6:30 pm. WBRZ reached out to East Baton Rouge Parish's traffic and drainage director but didn't get a comment by news time.

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