EBR councilman calls for moratorium on builders in high-risk flood zones

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Plans for a big Dallas-based business that wants to expand to Baton Rouge, and a couple of new subdivisions, could be put on hold.

East Baton Rouge District 8 Councilman Buddy Amoroso is calling for a temporary freeze on developments in high-risk flood zones.

A number of developers have set their eyes on Baton Rouge. The much talked about plans for the Lakes at Jones Creek subdivision recently got the attention of homeowners who live near the proposed development. In a series of town hall meetings hosted by Amoroso, residents voiced their concerns over traffic and the likelihood more development would put them at risk of flooding in the future.

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"I had over 3,200 houses flood [August 2016] in my district," said Amoroso.

Amoroso says after seeing the aftermath of the August flood, he felt it was time to do something to change the way developers build in Baton Rouge. His action comes in the form of a 6-month moratorium he wants to put on all new construction in high-risk floodplains. That would include FEMA Flood Zone A.

"Right now, subdivisions are only required to keep water in the subdivision based on a 10-year flood. We're probably changing that to a 25-year flood plan. Right now, new houses only have to be built 12 inches above the flood plain. We're probably going to be looking at 24 inches," said Amoroso.

According to EBR Planning and Zoning, four plans would be impacted by the moratorium. They include a permit filed by the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Lakes at Jones Creek subdivision, a smaller residential development off Elliot Rd. and Hoo Shoo Too Rd., and Dallas-based company, Topgolf, which has announced plans to build at the old Tinseltown Movie Theatre off Siegen Ln.

"They're probably going to have to go back to the drawing board and re-engineer their subdivisions, but I think in the long run it's going to be good for them. It's going to be definitely good for the public, great for the developments that surround them," said Amoroso.

Topgolf released the following statement regarding the moratorium:

We have recently learned of this proposed moratorium and are reaching out to city officials to discuss it. We are excited about the possibility of bringing a Topgolf venue to the city of Baton Rouge and we are hopeful this proposal will not delay our ability to proceed with our project approvals process as planned.

Amoroso says he is considering those builders' concerns, but his current residents are his priority. "Some of the stories I've heard have really broken my heart, and I just feel as a council member, it is the responsible thing to do," said Amoroso.

The item will be officially introduced when the council meets on Wednesday.

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