Holding an environmental services presentation, District 1 council member Trae Welch questions the debris removal process on Sept. 7 during a special meeting to discuss debris removal and elevation at City Hall.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

The long-planned Cheval Trails development on La. 964 will move forward despite objections from leaders representing Zachary.

Cheval Trails will be made up of 106 single-family lots with common spaces for horse riding just outside Zachary's city limits. The development initially won approval in 2007, but developer Windy Gladney has waited years to start building it.

As Gladney recently started bringing the project back to life, he encountered criticism from politicians in the Zachary area despite the East Baton Rouge Parish Planning Commission reaffirming its approval of the final development plan on Feb 21. A week later, the Zachary City Council passed a resolution of nonsupport on the development.

And on Wednesday, Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Trae Welch sought to overturn the recent approval from the city-parish Planning Commission. The appeal he asked for spurred a debate about how long developers should sit on property without touching it and whether political leaders can change their minds about past approvals.

Welch argued that Zachary has changed in the decade-plus that Gladney waited to pursue Cheval Trails, with traffic growing worse. Welch worried that the city of Zachary would also be called on to provide fire protection, utilities and other contracted services to the development despite the development being outside of Zachary's city limits.

But Gladney countered that he has paid taxes to both the city of Zachary and East Baton Rouge Parish for the development. And he said stopping his momentum now would cost him.

"Just because I haven't built on it doesn't mean I should give up my rights to a multi-million dollar investment," Gladney said at the East Baton Rouge Parish zoning meeting.

Gladney's attorney, Brett Furr, also said it would set a bad precedent for the Metro Council to go back on its earlier approval and the Planning Commission's earlier approval.

"It's a very slippery slope for the council to get on," Furr said. "Developers won't know that what they have approved will stay approved."

Despite Welch's arguments, Metro Council members sided with Gladney. Four council members voted against appealing the planning commission's approval of Cheval Trails, while only three voted for the appeal and the remainder did not vote or missed the meeting.

Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​