Dunn and Lockhart

Cars turn left off of Lockhart onto Dunn Road, north of Denham Springs. The intersection will soon sport a roundabout, but in the mean time a developer wants to put roughly 70 homes on 22 acres of land on the corner. The developer proposes to push the entrance and exit onto Lockhart.

DENHAM SPRINGS - New development, especially those which propose to maximize profit by placing as many homes as possible into a specific acreage, has become a hot topic in Livingston Parish.

Now, a group is looking to meet to bring more legal and legislative attention to the matter, they said.

Darrell Bennett, a resident of parish council District 3 - represented by Maurice 'Scooter' Keen - and president of the Summer Run Homeowners Association has called the meeting at Fire Protection District 5 headquarters on Highway 190 at 7 p.m.

The fire station is located on the roundabout at Eden Church Road and Highway 190.

Bennett plans to lay out the initial plat map for the subdivision, which will be presented to the planning commission on Wednesday, Nov. 4. His concerns revolve around the drainage with "that many homes in such a small space." Bennett is also concerned about traffic.

The subdivision in question proposes to place 70 lots on 26 acres, with four acres initially carved out for stormwater retention. It's proposed drain path would push water into a creek behind Summer Run and the other subdivision the new development would touch, Country Club Lane.

According to Keen, a conversation with Gravity Drainage District 1 said that would work "just fine" in accordance with current drainage plans and stormwater requirements.

Keen did voice concerns about the traffic, which is supposed to be pushed onto Lockhart and not Dunn Road. Dunn Road is slated for widening work in the next year, and utility relocation has already started for roundabout construction at the intersection of Lockhart and Dunn Road. Keen did not know if the exits may be too close to a roundabout or intersection.

"That's all up to the state and their (regulations)," Keen said.

The councilman stressed, however, that the issue coming before the planning commission is just the "initial plat map."

"There's a lot that can change between the time they go to planning, when they come to us, and then after," Keen said. "They still have to pass both the drainage and traffic impact studies - and there's a lot of things (the council) can do during that point, including work with a developer on certain aspects of the plan, specifically drainage.

"But it is true - if they don't ask for waivers and they pass the impact studies, then there isn't much we can do at that point."

As was made public during the Premier Concrete incident in Watson, should there be an issue with the drainage or traffic impact studies, the developer works directly with the parish's administration to solve the problems.

There were two, potential, drainage issues that could be worked on in this particular case, Keen said. If the impact study suggested that the retention needed to be larger, the council would require that. He said there was also negotiation room for how the subdivision would drain into larger laterals.

"We might ask gravity drainage if there's a better way to drain the whole subdivision while leaving (Summer Run) out of it," Keen said, "and ask them to do it that way."

Keen said that the council had already passed the Master Plan and will work on zoning to help curb the issues, and are considering other ways to make sure development does not effect neighbors.

Bennett said he did not trust the council to handle the issue, looking more toward a citizen-backed approach with the hopes that something would be put on the ballot to curb or stop development. He did not have specifics.

Once a problem only the western roughly one third of of the parish, geographically, had to deal with, now rampant development has moved to the forefront. Berry Ridge, a new subdivision on Fayard Drive in the Springfield area, brought Parish Councilmen Shane Mack (District 9) and Tab Lobell (District 8) to the table with concerns.

They were given the same line that has been uttered since the parish council lost a lawsuit trying to stop a new subdivision roughly three years ago - if the developer is not asking for waivers, and passes a drainage and traffic impact study, the board's hands are tied.

Just 20 minutes before Lobell and Mack voiced their concerns, Tracy Girlinghouse (District 7) was explaining a cooperative endeavor agreement between the Parish, City of Walker, and D.R. Horton to, at the very least he said, make sure the developer made the appropriate traffic upgrades at the corner of Duff Road and Burgess Road - in Walker - before the new subdivision, Foxglove, grew too big.

Girlinghouse, who has pushed the Master Plan back into the light, has repeatedly stated that zoning will fix many of the development problems the parish experiences.

"Zoning will allow us to set a specific number of homes per acre, depending on the land use designation in the area," Girlinghouse explained to the parish council.

"So, if it's rural, we may be able to say to a developer, 'You must have one house per acre, it cannot be any smaller."

After introducing funding for updating the Master Plan's drainage portion and zoning portion for the 2020 budget, Girlinghouse said his next move is to work with director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Mark Harrell on finding grant money for those updates.

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