A controversial 61,000-square-foot commercial development proposed for a six-acre rural tract of Highland Road near the Country Club of Louisiana appears to be dead, at least for now, after the Parish Attorney’s Office has recommended against granting building permits to the project’s developer, businessman Nitin Kamath.
Because permitted uses on the property changed from the time Kamath received site plan approval in March and applied for building permits in April, he should not be allowed to build his two, 2.5-story mixed-use buildings of with more than 250 parking spaces, the parish attorney says.
Residents of the area and district Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe became alarmed about the proposed project, Aztek Cove, and the congestion it could bring to two-lane Highland Road after finding out the staff of the East Baton Rouge Planning Commission had approved the plans in mid-March without public knowledge or input. Because the two buildings in the plans was each less than 50,000 square feet, the plans did not require a public hearing and approval from the full Planning Commission.
Kamath had been working with Louisiana Economic Development and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber on the project, according to Loupe, and was planning to move his companies—DBSystgraph, an information system software company, and Aztek Gaming, which sells software to tribal casinos—to the development.
Kamath is also a member of the Louisiana Economic Development Corp., which administers small business loan and incentive programs for the state.
Kamath, BRAC and LED have all declined to comment.
Until 2017, commercial development was allowed in rural zoning districts on properties that at one time had been used for commercial purposes, as Kamath’s was in the 1990s. The Metro Council changed that law in 2017, but grandfathered in existing property owners for one year. That grandfather clause expired April 1, two weeks after Kamath received site plan approval.
It is unclear whether Kamath will pursue litigation to move forward with his plans.