DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (BRPROUD)– A proposed 2,000-lot subdivision has stirred up controversy in Livingston Parish.
Project planners have moved forward after getting approved for their preliminary site plan and submitted their proposal before the 60-day moratorium was enacted.
The proposed subdivision called Deer Run is expected to be placed off of 4-H Club Road in Denham Springs.
Developers have their foot in the door, one step closer to boots on the ground. However, many residents are not happy about the project.
“Livingston Parish is very popular. People are coming from everywhere and without proper infrastructure,” said Denham Springs resident Randy Otillio. “We talk about drainage, we’re talking about the school system. We’re talking about traffic situations, fire and police protection.”
He believes the parish is putting the cart before the horse.
Many of the residents off 4-H Road said the narrow roads will not be able to handle 2,000 new families.
“In this particular area, there’s only so many places to get to the interstate or get out of the area. One of them is 4-H and Florida Boulevard. Anybody who goes that route knows that, especially during the school year, you could wait 20 or 30 minutes there,” said Otillio.
School board member Dr. Devin Gregoire said at this rate there won’t be enough teachers or space for more students.
“We have a teacher shortage issue. That’s the biggest concern, and then we have the ability to actually house all these new kids that are coming into the parish,” Gregoire said.
Gregoire said there’s already a huge number of homes pending.
“There’s around 15,000 new housing units are being allocated in Livingston Parish and we have eight to 10 schools that are at capacity that can’t take another kid,” he explained. “A lot of places in the parish, the rural places in parish, just don’t have the infrastructure to support something like that. So building new schools is very difficult in Livingston Parish right now.”
Livingston Parish Council Member Shane Mack, who voted to approve the preliminary site plan at the last council meeting, states he’s not for the project itself, and that his decision came down to fairness.
“This development met the requirements for the existing law. It was just about fairness and equality and to me, you couldn’t deny them their right and then go approve somebody else’s,” he said. “The council over the last eight to 12 weeks has spent many, many hours to try to deliver the service that the Livingston Parish people deserve.”
He said for things to change, there must be revisions made to the law.
“I understand that the people had some legitimate concerns. We need to work together as a team to modify and change the current development laws so that delivers acceptable growth,” Mack explained. “I’m not anti or pro-development, period. I’m just for following the law.”
Otillio believes there’s still room to decline major requests like Deer Run.
“A city master plan usually is put in place to help plan growth and development. That master plan has not been updated since 2013, but they can fall back to the city master plan saying, ‘Hey, this area isn’t currently ready for that type of development,’ and that would be a good reason to deny, based or approve for that matter,” he said.
The plan is still in the developing phase and impact studies must be done before the project can get off the ground.