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More apartments and retail coming to Highland Road after a Metro Council vote

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BATON ROUGE - The capitol area can expect more apartments and retail space on Highland Road at Bluebonnet after the Metro Council Zoning Board voted Wednesday to re-zone the area.

For the first time in months the Metro Council chambers were filled with residents pleading for a 'no' vote, but that's not what they got.

"We're disappointed and I think it's an indication of a larger systemic issue of things that are going on with drainage," said Jennifer Dietz the President of Magnolia Woods Civic Association.

There were many in attendance along with 400 submissions in opposition to this development, in fear of flooding and more traffic.

"Our hope was if we can defeat it we could then sit down with the developer and come up with something more bearable for the residents in the area," said resident Buddy Lang.

The council did discuss a possible deferral for 60 days, but in the end, they voted 7 to 1 to approve the rezoning of the area. The development will include 240 apartments, office space, retail, and a restaurant with a drive-thru. Council members made it clear their hands were tied.

"The decision was, do we want a general office highrise or do we want an apartment complex with some commercial space. It wasn't an easy vote, either way, we learned a development was going up," said Metro councilmember Jennifer Racca.

That's because the developer already had the land rezoned five years ago for a seven-story building with lots more office space. Instead, this time it's four stories with more apartments and fewer offices. Councilmember Racca saying reiterating there was nothing they could do and a deferral would only postpone the inevitable.

"An option C was proposed by a constituent I went and asked what the legality of that would look like and there was no option c," said Racca.

Though residents wanted to see more done, their next steps include meetings of their own.

"Well, we're going to reach out to them and see if they would be willing to sit down and have a conversation. We keep hearing the term, be a good neighbor and we'll find out if the intent is there," said Lang.

The developer did not want to speak after the vote. Councilmember Racca added that the city has drainage issues no matter what, and they are working on a moratorium that will help that.


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