Lafayette council nixes access road in Walker’s Village compromise _lowres

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A more than year-long battle over a planned south Lafayette subdivision ended Tuesday with a compromise that nixed an access road that existing residents in the area feared would bring too much traffic.

The Lafayette City-Parish Council voted unanimously Tuesday to reverse a decision by the Planning Commission to require a connection to Failla Road for Walker’s Village Phase II, a 77-lot subdivision planned for 24 acres off Verot School Road.

Residents in the existing Austin Village subdivision, which is adjacent to the Walker’s Village site, had raised concerns about drivers cutting through the subdivisions if access were opened to Failla, which would allow a connection through the area to Verot School.

The Planning Commission was following a policy aimed at encouraging traffic connectivity — the creation of a better network of roads to ease congestion.

The more than 100 Austin Village residents who filled the council chambers Tuesday clearly had issues with following that policy for Walker’s Village.

“I think you really have to weigh the desires and the needs of the subdivision when deciding when you make that connectivity,” resident David Way said.

The compromise hashed out Tuesday allows the subdivision to move forward and leaves a connection between Walker’s Village Phase II and Austin Village at South Michot Drive but does away with any connection that would allow pass-through traffic.

“We have a consensus that this is what the subdivision would like to see,” said Brent Logan, president of the Austin Village Homeowners Association.

The Planning Commission initially approved the new phase of Walker’s Village with the Failla Road connection in January 2013, but residents in the area filed a lawsuit challenging that decision, arguing they had not been given the legally required public notice of the commission hearing when the vote was made.

A judge earlier this year ruled in favor of the residents and sent the issue back to the Planning Commission, which in June approved the plan for the subdivision once more.

Residents then appealed to the council.

Despite the council’s vote on the compromise, city-parish staff warned of a need for good access for the fire and police departments, and Councilman Don Bertrand spoke of the need for more road connections to keep traffic flowing as Lafayette continues to develop.

“It has certainly never been thought that the neighborhood would not connect to somewhere else,” Bertrand said. “It’s one of the problems we have in Lafayette — that we are not connected.”

Other councilmen seemed less interested in efforts to improve connectivity if it means opening up subdivisions to through traffic from major roads.

Councilman Brandon Shelvin said he views subdivisions with limited access as safer than subdivisions with through traffic — fewer potential crime problems or safety issues with busy streets.

“That’s what we need to do is listen to the people not the engineers,” he said.

Those comments were echoed by Councilman Andy Naquin.

“You are creating in many ways a safety issue for families living along there,” Naquin said.

“I don’t see a major necessity for this connectivity.”