Proposed 90-day building ban on parts of Highland Road on today’s Metro Council agenda

The Metro Council will take up a controversial proposal this afternoon to impose a 90-day moratorium on any new development along Highland Road between Siegen Lane and Perkins Road.

The measure, sponsored by Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe, would be in effect while a Planning Commission subcommittee completes a review of rural zoning codes and ordinances.

Loupe says the area has become overdeveloped and that existing infrastructure cannot keep up. The moratorium, which would not apply to developments that have already been approved, would give the city-parish a chance to standardize varying density requirements allowed under the rural zoning code, and also to conduct a traffic study of Highland Road.

But the development community is opposed to the moratorium, which they say sends the wrong message to companies and investors who want to do business here. Larry Bankston, executive director of the Growth Coalition, sent a letter to council members last week asking them not to approve the measure, even though it would only be temporary.

“You have people who have started the process, made applications, followed the rules and now they’re being told to stop,” Bankston tells Daily Report. “This pulls the rug out from under them.”

The proposed moratorium is the latest step in the ongoing debate about development along parts of Highland Road. Several residents of Highland and Pecue Lane asked the council last year to change the zoning of hundreds of properties in a three-mile radius from rural to REA1. Rural zoning allows for about seven lots per acre, while REA1 allows only one lot per acre.

Bankston claims the proposed moratorium is intended to satisfy a relatively small group of residents at the expense of the overall community, which could be negatively impacted.

“Moratoriums send exactly the wrong signal to the development community because if it can happen here it can happen in some other district,” he says.

Loupe disagrees, noting that the city-parish has to get a better handle on the growth along one of its oldest and most iconic arteries.

“This is nonsense,” Loupe says. “One of our neighboring parishes (Ascension) did a moratorium because of traffic and it didn’t stop development there. If anything, this will encourage good growth. But we can’t keep approving projects along a road that cannot handle them.”

The council meets at 4 p.m. on the ninth floor of City Hall, 222 St. Louis St. See the full agenda.

—Stephanie Riegel

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