Rouzan rezoning issue causes heated exchange at Metro Council

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Emotions ran high Wednesday evening at the Baton Rouge Metro-Council meeting as members of council took exception to threats of personal lawsuits. The tension surrounded the Rouzan development in the Southdown's neighborhood that includes dozens of homes. The developer Tommy Spinosa asked council members to change the zoning from single family residential to traditional neighborhood development or TND, so existing homeowners can receive approval from banks and insurance companies.

"It's really created a financial nightmare for these approximately 40 residents so we ask for your consideration of this," said Spinosa.

Opponents of the zoning change promised to continue using the courts to fight the development and attacked members of the council.

"We have continued as a community to lose faith in your leadership and fumblings as a metro-council," said Janet Hoover.

The war of words pushed Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe to fire back at the opponents' lawyer Alex St. Amant, who just two weeks ago told each council member they could personally be sued if they chose to vote for the zoning change.

"I have 40 people that have houses in that subdivision that can't close or get mortgage insurance. Your clients say they can't either.  I understand that, but what position, what do you want us to do?" Loupe asked St. Amant.

"The law is as the first circuit said that they have no right to a TND zoning," answered St. Amant during the exchange.

"I make a thousand dollars a month doing this job and this lady stood up and said how evil I was," responded Loupe.

"And I've told you to enforce the law and make those who violated the law responsible for their fault," said St. Amant.

Several other council members joined Loupe to defend their credibility and then Councilman John Delgado explained the zoning change had already been approved by the surrounding Southdowns Civic Association.

"We can put these people in their homes. We can allow this development to move forward with the safeguards that the neighborhood associations want and approve and support," said Delgado.

The Metro-Council voted to approve the zoning change by an 11-0 vote but because of some concerns over how the measure was advertised it was deferred until May 14. Delgado says he fully expects the zoning change to be approved again at that meeting.

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