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Renewed effort to get office complex approved by city leaders met with pushback

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UPDATE: The zoning change was approved at the EBR Metro Council Zoning meeting.

This was the first step dealing with the concept plan. Next, developers will have to present a final design plan that would lay out how many office buildings will be built and what they'll look like. There's no timeline on when that plan will be complete and presented to Metro Council.

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BATON ROUGE – There’s a renewed effort to get a controversial development approved by city leaders. Plans call for a new office complex in an area of town plagued by traffic. It would be sandwiched between the I-10 Siegen Lane exit and the Audubon Terrace neighborhood.

The project is being pushed amid outcry from those who live just behind the property.

“The property here has no direct access to Siegen Lane or the frontage lane,” said Bill Gibson, the HOA for Audubon Terrace.

Gibson’s concern is that the neighborhood only has one entrance. If the offices went up those using them would have to enter the same entrance as all of the people who live there.

“People here, because of the lack of sidewalks in the neighborhood, use these roads for walking, biking and jogging,” Gibson said. “There’s a big safety concern.”

The landowner, though, says he’s trying to turn the space into something usable. Arthur Metrailer's family has owned the land for decades. He says what used to be acres of land has turned into only a sliver left.

“Usable is more like five acres,” Metrailer said.

Instead of having the land sit there with no use, he’s working with a developer to build something beneficial.

“We've had issues with homeless people, because this is a major intersection,” Metrailer said. “We've had people camping out.”

One compromise is the possibility of expanding the main entry road, Goldfinch Dr., to ease congestion and create more space for traffic flow. But Gibson doesn't see this as a good thing.

“It’s going to impact [the front] houses because who wants to live on a four-lane roadway,” he said. “It’s going to be a major roadway.”

The decision on if this will happen lies with the metro council. The proposal will be voted on Wednesday at the metro council zoning meeting. If approved, only the concept plan would be given the green light. The final design plan would have to be approved down the road before any construction could begin.

Earlier this year, the developers were looking to rezone the land to general office low rise. Now, developers are looking to rezone it to planned unit development for office space.

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