Residents file lawsuit to delay Central development

Residents file lawsuit to delay Central development
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
The Settlement at Shoe Creek (Source: Southern Lifestyle Development website)
The Settlement at Shoe Creek (Source: Southern Lifestyle Development website)

CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - A luxury development planned for Central has led to a lawsuit filed against the City Council and Mayor Jr. Shelton.

The project, called the Settlement on Shoe Creek, was recently approved by the council and plans to add 700 housing units, including 250 apartments, to the city. The development will also have retail space.

However, some Central residents say there is a big problem with that plan.

"There are a group of us that believe it violates our density ordinances for a traditional neighborhood development," said lawsuit petitioner Dave Freneaux. "We're interested in protecting our zoning code because if you start being arbitrary with zoning codes, you lose control over your whole city."

After the council gave the green light for Shoe Creek to start building on a stretch of land across from Walmart on Sullivan Road, Freneaux along with Michael Minnino and Michael Stephens filed a petition with the 19th Judiciary District Court to temporarily block the project. The lawsuit claims the number of apartments are six times more that what's actually allowed for a traditional neighborhood development or TND.

Freneaux said the city's own net density calculator calls for no more than 41 apartments. However, Mayor Shelton said no ordinances are violated.

"No laws have been broken. In fact we look forward to a court seeing the facts of our work and ending this heinous attempt to stall progress in our city," said Shelton.

Freneaux said he is not anti-development. In fact, he called the TND a "neat idea."  However, he said any development must follow the letter of the city law.

"We need the tax bases. We need some more roof tops to attract some of the businesses we do need in Central. I'm certainly not against the TND. I'm just in favor of protecting our zoning ordinances," said Freneaux.

The lawsuit also alleges that Shelton acted beyond his powers as mayor and made a deal with a neighboring development to turn a private road into a public road in order to give Shoe Creek a needed second access point. The documents claim that agreement could tie up taxpayer dollars and Shelton can't do that without council approval first.

Again, Shelton denies anything illegal.

"This past week unfounded, unproved and unsubstantiated charges were made against myself and other city officials. Nothing. I mean nothing could be further from the truth," said Shelton.

The lawsuit will be reviewed by Judge Wilson Fields. His initial decision is expected Wednesday.

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