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Neighborhood residents concerned about new event center under construction on their property

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BATON ROUGE - An event center off of Highland Road near Staring Lane is expanding, and residents of the neighborhood next to the construction aren't happy with the prospect.

Mount Hope Plantation is building an 11,000-square-foot event hall. The neighborhood behind it, Magnolia Woods Subdivision, is not happy, and for the last few years has been trying to put a stop to it due to concerns about flooding, proper landscaping, lighting, parking, and loud music.

In the last year, a concrete slab was poured and recently large wooden beams have come up. Now it appears that the building will be built before a civil case can be heard.

It's being built right behind Laurie Jones' house.

"I hear construction and I have a gut-ache all day because I can't believe somebody could get a permit or anybody would even want to do this to such a nice neighborhood," Jones said.

The neighborhood has tried legal measures to stop it: there is a lawsuit with the city and a judge denied an injunction. Permits have been filed and now the event center is being built.

Long ago with prior owners, the zoning was changed from A-1 to SPUD, or Small Planned Unit Development. A much smaller development was approved and that development had a three-year shelf life. New owners changed the plans a couple of times.

Magnolia Woods Civic Association President Jen Dietz says someone didn't follow the rules when it was approved by the parish.

"It goes back to 2016 and it just culminates to what they're building now," said Dietz. "We don't know how that was okay and it has our residents very concerned about the long-term effects on our neighborhood."

Magnolia Woods has a history of flooding and there are concerns that the current plans do not keep with the SPUD regulations.

So far, cries for help have gone unheard.

"Somebody help me because this has got to go," said Jones. "They can have 385 people in this party house."

The property is owned by Lisa and Gene Luther. Lisa tells 2 On Your Side that "we have not done anything that's inappropriate" and directed further questions to their legal counsel. The city-parish says that it cannot comment because of pending litigation, but does say that any structure goes through required inspections during the construction process.

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