Proposed building moratorium on parts of Highland Road concerns Growth Coalition

The Baton Rouge Growth Coalition expressed concern today about a proposal by Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe to impose a 90-day building moratorium along a portion of Highland Road.

Loupe wants the moratorium to take effect along the busy roadway between between Siegen Lane and Perkins Road while the a Planning Commission subcommittee completes a review of rural zoning codes and ordinances. The item is set to come before the council on Wednesday.

In a letter, Growth Coalition Executive Director Larry Bankston says while the organization understands the need for planning and zoning studies, they can be conducted without a moratorium.

“Our organization does not take positions on any specific projects before the Planning Commission or the council, but the proposed moratorium by Councilman Loupe will do great harm to projects already underway and create an impress that Baton Rouge is antidevelopment,” Executive Director Larry Bankston writes.

As written, Bankston says, the moratorium leaves the city-parish open to legal challenges because of its wording.

“For example, the proposed draft of the moratorium does not address what a ‘new development application’ is or what it includes,” reads the letter from Bankston, which goes on to suggest it should not include building permits on any properties, or applications that are based on previously submitted plans or a final subdivision plat for approval.

Attempts to reach Loupe for comment as of this afternoon’s deadline were unsuccessful.

The moratorium is the latest step in the ongoing debate about development along parts of Highland Road. Several residents of Highland and Pecue Lane as 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.

Residents in favor of the change have said they are trying to ensure development in the area is more controlled because the roads in that area are already overburdened and residents have concerns about flooding if more developments come to their little stretch of town, which is one of the few places left in Baton Rouge to build.

Councilman Buddy Amoroso has asked the Planning Commission to conduct a study of rural zoning codes, and Loupe wants the moratorium in place while that study is being conducted.

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

—Ryan Broussard

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