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Two subdivisions approved, another denied by EBR planning commission Monday

2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago Monday, July 19 2021 Jul 19, 2021 July 19, 2021 10:42 PM July 19, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A packed house of residents watched as the East Baton Rouge planning commission greenlit Monday two subdivisions in its monthly meeting.

Another subdivision project was deferred while commissioners denied a fourth.

A proposed 986-home subdivision at the intersection of Groom Road and Old Scenic Highway was deferred for 30 days. A large swath of Zachary residents, including police chief David McDavid, showed up before the commission voted to hold off on a vote.

The commission noted several parties had reached out about the subdivision, citing concerns about overcrowding in Zachary schools, the impact on first responders and traffic.

The commission would later approve plans for The Park at Jones Creek, a 23-townhome project along Jones Creek Road near South Harrell's Ferry Road. The proposal spans nearly six acres, with half in a flood zone.

Commissioners debated possibly deferring the development or outright denying it before ultimately giving it the green light, even as some residents pushed back.

"The priority should be for all sites now, not to build in the AE flood zone, the special flood area-hazard zone," one resident said. "Every project that comes up in which that's approved has the potential to really damage what's happening in the parish in terms of this flooding trend, which we all know is getting worse because we saw what happened in May."

The developer, responding in real-time, says steps are being taken to avoid making matters worse.

"Although 50% of the site is in the flood zone, we're only developing a little less than half an acre of it at the rear of the lots," the developer said. "We've gone above and beyond the current requirements, to design for a 25-year storm, and we have designed it for a 100-year storm."

Another proposal, The Gardens at Forest Park, a 26-home development along South Harrell's Ferry Road that backs up to BREC's Forest Park, was not as lucky. About a quarter of the plans were within a flood zone.

Commissioners denied the project after a lengthy back and forth with the developer and engineer. A handful of residents spoke in opposition to the development.

"There's been an awful lot of flooding in this community that didn't use to happen," one resident said. "Something does need to be done."

A larger discussion about what projects, based on location and flood mitigation measures, should be approved unfolded as commissioners made their way through July's agenda.

"I'm at the place, until those things have been resolved, that we not build in flood areas and we certainly should not build in flood areas where to answer to drainage in retention ponds," councilwoman and commissioner, Chauna Banks said.

In response, another commissioner, Clifford Grout, argued the commission must follow city-parish ordinances in deciding how to vote on proposed developments.

"I'm very concerned about just flat denying this because we don't like the fact that it's in a flood zone," Grout said. "They can build in a flood zones. We have an entire ordinance about this. I may not like a lot of it, but it is the ordinance. And if we need to change that, then we need to change the ordinance."

The commission also gave final approval to a 150-lot development, Eliza Gardens, along Burbank Drive and fully in a flood zone.

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