SCOTLANDVILLE, LA (WAFB) - A new housing option is in the works for the Scotlandville area, but not everyone is on board.
A public meeting Tuesday night gave residents a chance to question the developer about the project, but it broke down into shouting matches at times.
Residents in the Scotlandville area peppered developer Gary Gibbs with questions about the nearly 400-unit property, Howell Village. It is something EBR councilwoman Chauna Banks says they had not gotten much opportunity to do before.
"They've been speaking to a select person and they've done their due diligence to give them credit for that, however, a majority of the community is not aware," Banks said.
Banks represents District 2, which makes up roughly 80 percent of the Scotlandville area. She says she has received a number of calls from people complaining about the project, saying it is just not what the area needs.
The 380-unit development called Howell Village will be located off of 72nd Ave. near the YMCA. While most folks say they are excited about progress, what they are not happy with is the location.
"We're going to have 400 houses and not the proper infrastructure, no good schools, and in the middle of a food desert," Banks said. "Based on what we know, that usually breeds crime."
The project is more than a year in the making and is designed to bring affordable, single-level family townhomes to the area. Banks says while the intentions are good, the long-term investment in the community is not.
"These 400 units, while they are very nice, there are no options to buy," Banks added.
Councilwoman Tara Wicker says they have had several opportunities for public input. It is why she is shocked by the sudden backlash.
"It did get a little heated at times but that's the process," Wicker said. "We've had public hearings. We've had community meetings on it, and so far there had been no real opposition to the project."
As for the lack of places for folks to shop and enjoy near the future development, she says it is something that is being worked on, but points out it is hard to attract business without first providing potential customers.
"The more people that we have investing in Scotlandville and moving into the Scotlandville area, the better we know that's going to be an attraction for businesses to come," Wicker said.
While there is some opposition, Wicker hopes it does not get in the way of future progress.
"My hope is that meetings like this and conversations like this don't at the end of the day don't deter individuals and think that if I come up there and try to develop in the North Baton Rouge area that it's going to be more difficult than it needs to be," Wicker added.
Wicker said the development was approved unanimously by the EBR metro council back in November and also given the green light by the Planning Commission.
Developers say they plan to begin construction on Howell Village as early as June.