A swell of worried residents who spoke Wednesday about extensive flooding around the Amite River last August was not enough to stop the Metro Council from approving a new development called The Sanctuary planned east of South Tiger Bend Road and south of Babin Lane.

The upscale subdivision from developer Corbin Ladner will have 106 custom homes on 77 acres with prices starting at $450,000. Ladner said he tried to meet with homeowner associations and others who live near the subdivision, and changed his development to quell their concerns by making lot sizes bigger and cutting eight lots from his plan.

"Last year, all they asked for was a development with larger lots," Ladner said about his attempts to work with those who live near his planned development. "That's exactly what I've designed and proposed."

But the debate over whether to approve the subdivision focused mostly on flooding, environmental and geological concerns from residents, many of whom pointed out that Tropical Storm Cindy was showering rain over the Capital City as they spoke.

A rising Amite River was a major contributor to flooding across the parish last August and residents said they could not understand how the city-parish could approve another development along the river knowing what happened a year ago.

Mary Gentry, a geologist who spoke in opposition to the development, pointed out that a geological fault line near The Sanctuary could be a costly risk for homeowners. She reminded council members that Woodlawn High School had to relocate from Tiger Bend Road because of its location on the fault line.

"To me, it’s a slap in the face to the residents of southeast Baton Rouge that suffered through in 2016 — some still trying to recover," said Bert Gabriel, who lives in the Lake at White Oak subdivision that will neighbor The Sanctuary. "To even consider allowing further development of the Amite River Basin is not only unwise, but completely irresponsible."

Kim Reid, who lives in The Meadows subdivision that will also neighbor The Sanctuary, asked Metro Council members whether they would buy a home in a subdivision so close to the fault line. And South Tiger Bend Road resident Mike Stewart pushed the Metro Council to deny all new developments in flood hazard plains until a better comprehensive plan for drainage in the parish is developed.

"Those of us that flooded, I will tell you this: We will not stand for business as usual in East Baton Rouge," Stewart said. "Business as usual can't keep continuing with what knowledge we have of what can happen"

Ladner committed to the Metro Council that he will not increase the number of lots in his proposed development, and those working with him on the development said people who want to live there will be informed about their proximity to a fault line.

The property for The Sanctuary was previously scouted for a larger development called Timber Ridge, which raised questions about the city-parish's cluster ordinance. The city-parish's Planning Commission denied Timber Ridge last June, and struck the "cluster ordinance" provision from its rules because of the confusion it created.

Metro Councilman Dwight Hudson, whose district encompasses the new neighborhood, said he made sure to hold multiple public meetings about The Sanctuary because of the controversial history of the site from Timber Ridge. The main feedback from those meetings was to increase the lot sizes and to remove a handful of lots, which Corbin did, Hudson said.

He said he became more comfortable with The Sanctuary as the process went along. Some residents had said they would forward to Hudson an independent drainage study showing disastrous effects from the development, but he said Wednesday all he received was hand-scribbled notes without an engineer's name attached. And Hudson pointed out that hundreds, if not thousands of structures exist along the fault line.

Hudson also said he was impressed with the developer hiring an independent engineering firm that works with the Amite River Basin Commission to validate his plans.

He and the majority of council members voted to approve rezoning the property along with amending the land use plan to change the neighborhood from agricultural and rural to residential neighborhood. The only council member to vote against both was Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wilson.

"We've put this development through the wringer," Hudson said. "I don't often see that level of due diligence done. I feel very confident about the amount of inspection that we've given."

Hudson was also impressed with the developer hiring an independent engineering firm that works with the Amite River Basin Commission to validate his plans. 

Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​