237-lot subdivision off Hwy 73 in Prairieville on Planning agenda (Wednesday)

Another Quality Engineered subdivision plat. It’s been a while.

Traffic choked during drive-time, Hwy 73 is the site targeted by Lynn Levy Land Co., LLC, a developer new to Ascension Parish, for a 237-lot subdivision on 86.5 acres (its engineer is a familiar one).  Antebellum Pointe Subdivision is being proposed west of Hwy 73, “approximately 750’ south of White/Duplessis Rd. in Council District 4 and is zoned Medium Intensity Residential (RM).”  The subdivision’s preliminary plat is on the Wednesday, February 12 Planning Commission agenda for approval.

District 4, hard in Ascension’s northwest corner, was among the first areas inundated by the tidal wave of humanity descending upon Prairieville when the parish became an attractive option for Baton Rouge emigres (and others) at the turn of the last century.  Having reached the saturation point in the area abutting East Baton Rouge Parish and bisected by I-10, subdivision development moved east (targeting Hwy 42) and south (inside/outside the City of Gonzales).

District 4 has not seen a proposed “Major Subdivision” for over five years (unless one includes the 3 acre, 22-unit Myrtle Grove Townhouses approved by the Planning Commission in September of 2015).  Antebellum Pointe, if approved on Wednesday, would be located just north of Longwood Subdivision where residents successfully fought off Crawfish Aquatics’ effort to rezone 3.5 acres abutting Hwy 73, but only temporarily.

Crawfish Aquatics, a two-building commercial development, was approved pursuant to a “contract agreement” with the Planning Commission in July of 2017 after rezoning had been denied by the Parish Council five months earlier.  Former District 4 councilman, Daniel “Doc” Satterlee, led that fight along with citizen organizers who presented a 500 (+/-) signature petition to the Planning Commission.

NOTE:  The commission’s authority over rezoning requests is limited to making a recommendation.  But the seven-member panel could enter into contracts with developers, which is how Crawfish Aquatics got around denial of its rezoning application.  Satterlee, a consistent and ardent opponent of development without necessary infrastructure, would successfully push legislation eliminating the seldom used “contract agreement” procedure.

District 4 opted to send Satterlee packing in favor of Councilman Corey Orgeron on October 12, 2019.  Will the new council member champion the resistance like his predecessor?  That remains to be seen.

One member of the citizen resistance argues that “existing nightmarish traffic congestion renders Hwy 73 unfit for more residential development.”  The theme has resonated parish-wide as nary a buildable subdivision has been approved since October 2018.  Antebellum Pointe’s traffic impact study…

Antebellum Pointe Traffic Impact Study findings

evidences the argument.  Enactment of more stringent Traffic Impact Studies is, we believe, the primary reason for the dearth of subdivision approvals.  Included in the Planning Commission’s meeting packet is the “Traffic Impact Study Summary” for Antebellum Pointe which reads, in its entirety:

Consulting Engineer: Reece Rodrigue,PE, PTOE; QES
Date of Report: December 16, 2019
Date of Traffic Counts: November 12, 2019
Number of Proposed Lots: Analyzed for 261 lots (237 on Preliminary Plat)
Peak Hour Trips: PM is peak. 255 Total
Study Threshold Level: 2
LOS D Analysis: Existing analysis show approaches at LA 73/White Rd-Duplessis Rd, LA 73/Post Office Rd-Alive Braud (sic), and LA 73/LA621 operate worse than D.
Offsite Intersections Studied: LA 73/White Rd-Duplessis Rd, LA 73/Post Office Rd-Alice Braud, and LA 73/LA621
Conclusion: Completed interstate ramp improvements at LA 73/LA 621 were considered Full Build-Improved conditions. There are multiple approaches that operate at a LOS lower than D with no improvements to bring LOS to acceptable levels.
Sight Distance Evaluation:  LA 73 sight distance was evaluated at the current condition and concluded that sight distance is adequate at a distance.  White Rd. sight distance was evaluated at the current condition and concluded that sight distance is adequate at a distance.
Additional Developments Considered: Baton Rouge General Ascension Neighborhood Hospital and Bluff Ridge  Primary were included in No Build scenarios.

Codified in June of 2018, current Traffic Impact Analyses procedure includes:

“A proposed development which is subject to the TIA requirements of this policy may be disapproved when the results of the required TIA demonstrate that the proposed project will overburden the existing roadway system by causing a reduction in service of affected roadways, negatively impacts the safety of the roadway, or is below the adopted Level of Service (LOS) “D”.  In the case where the existing LOS is below “D”, the required mitigating improvements shall improve the LOS to “D” or better.”

Again, it was Satterlee who led the charge from his chairmanship over the Council Strategic Planning Committee.  It provides compelling arguments for opponents of Antebellum Pointe, multiple of whom urged publication of this article in anticipation of Wednesday’s Planning Commission vote.  They will have to overcome the “approval” recommendation from Ascension’s Planning Staff:

The proposed plat meets all guidelines for a major subdivision per current ordinance and should the commission concur with staff’s analysis, staff recommends approval provided applicant addresses any additional comments and provides the infrastructure necessary to send influent to a parish owned sewer treatment facility.

Curious, while unsurprising.  Our review of packet materials noted several unfulfilled conditions, including questions about the Traffic Impact Study which have not been addressed.  To-wit:

Traffic Study
1. LOS at White Rd. and Duplessis EB and WB are operating below a LOS of D in Build Improved conditions for both AM and PM Peaks. Provide recommendations to bring LOS to down to D or better. Recommendations have NOT been provided.
2. LOS at Post Office Rd. WB is operating below a LOS of D in Build Improved conditions for both AM and PM Peaks. Provide recommendations to bring LOS to down to D or better. Recommendations have NOT been provided.  (Emphasis in original).

Other questions remain unanswered.

  • Is the Sewer Treatment Plant located west of the pond bordering Lots 220-215, being used for this project? If so, is there enough room for expansion? Comment has been addressed. Sewer will be tied into LA 73 sewer.

What LA 73 sewer?

  • Add statement about water flow to eventual drainage channel. Comment has NOT been addressed.
  • Label existing top of bank and drainage servitude along Bayou Goudine. Top bank labeled but drainage servitude comment has NOT addressed.

Will the comments be addressed and, if so, when?