Has Ascension reached a turning point in residential subdivision construction?

LEGEND:  ConservationRuralMedium Intensity ResidentialHeavy Industry

Hidden Lakes Subdivision, if approved by the Planning Commission on Wednesday, will consist of 81 residential lots sited on 188 acres in the northeast corner of Ascension Parish.  Zoned “R” for Rural, two lots per acre are permitted as opposed to Medium Residential (RM) which allows three lots per acre in the parish’s least restrictive residential zoning (“C”-Conservation permits only one residential lot per acre)  Is this the wave of the future?

Has a tipping point been reached, marking a turning point in subdivision development?

With so many RM subdivisions being built in Prairieville already, it is easy to forget that no residential subdivision has been approved by the Planning Commission since October 2018.  That was The Villas at Rosewood, 54 townhouses near the intersection of Hwy 42 and Hwy 44.  Of the last three RM-zoned (three lot per acre) subdivisions considered by the commission, none have been approved.

Most recently, Antebellum Pointe was denied by the commission’s 4-3 vote on March 11.  You can expect an appeal to the Parish Council, sitting as the Planning Commission Appeals Board, in the near future.

In May of 2019 Evelyn Estates received unanimous approval with conditions so onerous the developer walked away.  Building a roundabout for a 43-lot subdivision was cost-prohibitive and DOTD was not going to approve a traffic signal at the intersection of Cornerview and Chester Diez roads.  The preliminary plat was the only one proposed in 2019.

Amalfi Cove was rejected by a bare majority of the commission in December of 2018.  The developer did not appeal that decision.

On Wednesday the Planning Staff will update the status of 12 already approved subdivisions in various stages of development.  Five are designated, “In Construction” with eight others having progressed, at least, to the Final Plat approval stage.  Added up the subdivisions include 1,118 lots.

In February there were 23 subdivisions itemized in the Status Report, totaling 2,056 lots.

Hidden Lakes is, according to the Meeting Packet for Wednesday:

Located on the west side of LA Hwy. 931 at the west end of Tommy King Rd. approximately 3,000’ north of Norwood Rd. in Council Districts 5 & 6 and is zoned Rural (R). The application is on behalf of Ascension Properties, Inc. by Quality Engineering & Surveying, LLC.

The property consists of +/-188.4 acres. The applicant is proposing a major subdivision preliminary plat containing 81 lots with a minimum size of 1 acre to 4.8 acres. Residential lots will consume 123.5 acres of the total 188.4 acres with the remaining acreage composed of the remainder parcel, ‘C2’…The entirety of the property is within the AE flood zone with a base flood elevation of +/- 15’.  The project drains to a branch of Henderson Bayou (Lake End lateral) and into Henderson Bayou.

The developer is proposing to dedicate Lot ‘C2’ on the north side of the Lake End lateral to the Parish for a possible regional detention and recreation area. Analysis was conducted by CSRS to determine the capability of the parcel to be used as a regional detention area and the Parish will determine its value for recreational purposes.

The development conforms to the Master Land Use Plan adopted by the Planning Commission on May 29, 2019.  A land use classification, yet to be recognized by council-enacted ordinance, “Estate Subdivision” would encompass the acreage targeted by Hidden Lakes.  “Estate subdivisions have large lots of at least one acre per unit.”

There has been no discussion, not publicly anyway, of ordinances to effectuate the terms of that new Master Plan.

Wednesday also marks the first residential preliminary plat to be considered since two commissioners, Anthony Christy and Morrie Bishop, left the seven-member panel.  Only one of the positions has been filled after a council-appointee withdrew her name.