BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Metro councilman wants some wide open green spaces in Baton Rouge to become the city's next big story of economic development. Some River Road landowners are not thrilled about the plan.
In 1937, during America's Great Depression, the family of Ted A. Jones moved to a plot of land along River Road near Ben Hur Road. The 85-year-old has been there ever since.
"It was the best thing that ever happened to me, to come to the country," said Jones.
Jones' property falls within a twelve mile stretch of River Road between Baton Rouge and the Iberville Parish line.
It's a stretch Metro Councilman John Delgado wants to rezone from its rural designations to the same zoning as downtown, allowing for development like restaurants, retail, housing and more hotels like L'Auberge.
"We want to make it to where it's already zoned to attract business," said Delgado. "The idea would be to create a 'Riverfront District' all the way from downtown to the Iberville Parish line."
Delgado said it wouldn't cost anything to taxpayers, but the idea still doesn't sit well with an old cattle farmer like Jones.
"I'd prefer it to be the same, like always," said Jones.
The long-term plan comes a month after the controversy surrounding a proposed barge cleaning facility along the river.
Delgado and the Metro Council killed that idea by rezoning the area for only heavy commercial use.
Under his new plan, Delgado said land along River Road already zoned for other uses would not be taken away, meaning Jones would continue to ride his tractor. His view though may drastically change.
"There's going to be a change," said Jones. "There's nothing I can do about it, but I don't have to agree with them."
"We have wasted this natural resource that we have been given in Baton Rouge for so long," said Delgado. "Nobody thinks to go to the riverfront to develop property where as in every other major city in America, that's the most sought after real estate."