Residents rally against zoning change in Southdowns neighborhood

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A proposed change in the zoning of a property in the Southdowns neighborhood drew a unified community opposition Monday night at the Baton Rouge Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting.

The property in question would be re-zoned in order to complete the sale by the owner, Ben Skillman, to a group of psychiatrists looking to open up a practice in the Southdowns neighborhood.

"This re-zoning would have the snowball effect of slowly and gradually eroding the residential character of the neighborhood," said one priest from St. Aloysius School.

Residents and community members urged the Planning and Zoning Commission to keep the status of the property residential instead of changing it to a planned unit development.

"Let's keep the Southside residential and please we ask that you tell Mr. Skillman we're not going to re-zone his single property so he can sell it," said St. Aloysius parishioner Greg Aycock.

Nearly two hours of voiced opposition not lost on members of the commission.

"I know there are plenty of other people that would like to talk but I'd like to make a motion to deny," said commission member Martha Jane Tassin.

The motion to deny the zoning change passed by a vote of 6-2, leaving members of the Southdowns community with a large victory under their belts.

"We kind of feel like David and Goliath but it definitely shows some hope that our government is responsive and those in charge of making decisions will listen to us and take our side," said Southside Civic Association President Dr. William Gladney.

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