Metro Council to discuss possibility, logistics of subdivisions requesting building moratoriums

The Metro Council will soon discuss the theoretical possibility of and process for implementing a building moratorium in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Metro Council member Chauna Banks is formally calling for “a discussion to address a process by which certain subdivisions can petition the EBR Planning and Zoning Commission to implement a moratorium on building activity until certain specific underlying issues are resolved.” The discussion item is being introduced at tonight’s council meeting.

Banks’ request comes as Ascension Parish officials debate whether to implement a 12-month moratorium on all new residential and commercial construction. While Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment is pitching the proposal as a way to mitigate flooding issues, it’s garnering major opposition from area developers and homebuilders.

In light of the flooding event three weeks ago, Banks says she has received an onslaught of emails from specific subdivisions and Homeowners Associations in EBR, calling for a citywide moratorium on new construction. But instead of a blanket hold on development, she wants to see whether a moratorium—if legal under the Plan of Government—could be focused on sections of the parish or petitioned by certain neighborhood HOAs.

“Though I sympathize with those in affected areas, I am leery of and would not support a citywide development moratorium because, in my district, we feel like there’s been an invisible moratorium on us for 40 years,” says Banks, whose district includes Scotlandville and Beechwood, among other areas. “My goal for this discussion is to not make the missteps that I see surfacing with Ascension’s call for a moratorium, but rather to determine how that process would look for Baton Rouge.”

Over the next two weeks, Banks will meet with several city-parish officials, including individuals from the parish attorney’s office and planning department, to gather more information ahead of the council discussion. 

Among the questions she hopes to have answered: Would a construction moratorium be legal under the parish Plan of Government as is, or would certain language need to be changed? If an HOA wants to halt building activity, would certain prerequisites need to be in place? Which local entity would be charged with processing these requests before they head to the Metro Council for final approval?

“We need to know for residents what this looks like, and who would handle it,” Banks says.

The council will discuss the issue on June 23.