A new subdivision has been approved for the northwest side of Burbank Drive south of Highland Road despite concerns about floods spilling over the area in August and its proximity to Bayou Fountain.
The city-parish's planning commission approved The Willows at Bayou Fountain subdivision on Monday. It will have 102 single family homes, along with three lots for commercial spaces and a 35-acre pond intended to help prevent future flooding.
But several people asked the commission not to approve the subdivision, and they recalled how Bayou Fountain was especially problematic when torrential rains in August led to unprecedented floods. Bayou Fountain flows into Bayou Manchac and then the Amite River, so when the Amite River's water levels are high and cannot accept more water flowing into it, the other waterways end up running out onto streets.
When more than 20 inches fell in parts of East Baton Rouge and nearby parishes Thursday to S…
Backflow water from Bayou Manchac in August flooded Burbank Drive.
"Mother Nature cannot be controlled," said Cathy Gautreaux, one resident who spoke at the meeting. "That water has got to go somewhere. And we're just a little concerned that we're maybe the next victim of progress, and we hope you would study it further."
Anita Kuo, who lives in the Lakes at Highland subdivision next to the upcoming Willows at Bayou Fountain, said she was especially concerned that developer Windy Gladney had already made mistakes in the process. Planning Director Frank Duke said the details of the setbacks on some of Gladney's diagrams had the wrong numbers on them, and would need to be fixed before the subdivision could move forward.
Others asked who would maintain the pond, saying it could quickly become ineffective if it were not properly maintained. Gladney said the homeowner's association would maintain it, but that he would also ensure it is properly cared for.
"I can't control Mother Nature," Gladney said. "I can't control what goes on across the country. I can control what I put my fingerprints on."
Only one relic in Chloe Olden’s home survived the flood waters that rushed over large swaths…
He also tried to calm the concerns by saying the same engineer for the Willows at Bayou Fountain engineered the neighboring Lakes at Highland subdivision, which did not flood. Kuo said her family evacuated as there were 4 to 6 inches of water on her street and she feared they might flood.
David Lindenfeld, speaking on behalf of Together Baton Rouge, also asked the planning commission to be mindful of the possibility of climate change in their planning regulations. He said the commission should not ignore warming temperatures in Baton Rouge, nor should it ignore rising sea-levels that would affect drainage in local waterways.
Duke reminded the commissioners that the Metro Council instructed them not to consider the August flood in future stormwater calculations because the council deemed the flood a unique event.
The commission unanimously approved the development.
This article was changed on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, to delete a reference to flood waters coming within inches of Anita Kuo's house. She said that wasn't the case.