The city-parish Planning and Zoning Commission in a 6-1 vote Monday approved the rezoning of part of a residential lot behind Sammy’s Bar and Grill on Highland Road to add parking to the restaurant and address safety concerns over cars backing out into the street.
The commission also approved a concept plan for Fairfield at Baton Rouge, a mixed-use development at the southern corner of Burbank Drive and Ben Hur Road, over the objections of two commissioners and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, who said it would affect water quality and drainage.
The issue at Sammy’s, according to project engineer David Fazekas, is that the restaurant’s two parking lots are essentially dead ends and cars that pull into one have to back out onto Highland Road to try to get a spot in the other one.
The request was to take the back portion of the residential lot behind the restaurant, upon which sits a house owned by restaurant owner Sammy Nagin, and incorporate it into the parking lot to add spaces and let cars circulate between the two lots that exist.
Residents, however, complained the noise and lights from the restaurant have come close enough.
Sam Martin, representing the Magnolia Woods subdivision and several others nearby, distributed maps showing the restaurant’s encroachment over the decades. He said cutting the back of the residential lot would decrease its value and that of nearby homes and would put the property in violation of deed restrictions.
After a few questions about a fence and buffer that will separate the expanded lot from the neighborhood, commissioners Tara Wicker, W.T. Winfield, Darius Bonton, Laurie Marien, Audrey Nabors Jackson and Martha Jane Tassin voted for the change. Commissioner James Gilmore voted against.
The issue around Fairfield stemmed from comments made by Kathy Rhorer Wascom, legislative liaison with LEAN, about the impact of development near the wetlands in the southeast portion of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Commissioners Winfield and Gilmore said the commission shouldn’t approve any changes without more study of the impact of any development there.
Charles Landry, the attorney speaking for Fairfield, said the 41 acres that would be developed aren’t actually in the wetlands. He said approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will still be needed, and, at the commission’s request, he said he would provide any environmental surveys done up to this point.
In other business, Cypress Springs senior apartments, a ninth filing in University Club Plantation and 75 single family lots behind the homes on the east side of Madeira Drive between Perkins Road and Anselmo Lane were approved unanimously.