EBR Metro Council discusses rezoning site of proposed barge cleaning facility

Metro Council members planning to discuss barge cleaning facility

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Texas-based company may have to find a new location to build its proposed barge cleaning facility along the Mississippi River. Some members of the East Baton Rouge Metro Council are hoping to stop the project before it starts by rezoning the area.

Tubal-Cain Marine Services wants to build the facility near the intersection of Brightside and River Road. Mayor Kip Holden and a number of city leaders have come out firing against the proposal because it is near parks, neighborhoods and LSU.

"There is plenty of industrial areas along the river that they could put that facility. The problem is you're building next to the River Bend subdivision with thousands of homes," said Councilmember John Delgado.

Delgado and Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe plan to pitch an ordinance at Wednesday night's meeting that will change the zoning of the land Tubal-Cain plans to build on in hopes of stopping the project at that site.

The area is currently zoned as open space, which is undeveloped land. Council members want to change that to commercial, which will only permit things like retail stores, offices and apartments to be built.

"We don't believe that space is going to be used correctly for the adjacent residents and neighborhoods," said Delgado.

Delgado said this is also about safety. The potential site is across from BREC's Farr Park as well as a couple of apartments and subdivisions. Cleaning barges requires offloading the cargo, flaring any leftover toxic chemicals and releasing any non-toxic chemicals.

"To put a facility there that is going to handle toxic chemicals, I don't think that it's appropriate use for that space," said Delgado.

Catherine Fruge, a nearby resident, said she is on the fence about the issue.

"I'm sure it's not going to be very pretty, and I'm sure that it's not going to be something a lot of people are going to want. If it provides jobs and more for the community, why not?" said Fruge.

After Wednesday's meeting, the Planning Commission will see if the land can be changed to commercial zoning. The council will vote on the issue August 19.

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