GONZALES — Ascension Parish planning panels have agreed to add 56 more apartment units to a mixed-use subdivision proposal approved early last year near the southeast corner of Airline Highway and Germany Road.
The Ascension Parish Council must still approve an agreement laying out the new responsibilities for the developer of Silver Oaks, Ascension Properties Inc., but the Planning Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission granted key approvals for the changes last week.
The proposal envisions a mix of apartments and single-family homes on 28 acres of pasture fronting Germany Road but also with access to Airline.
Under the changes getting commission support Feb. 10, the Silver Oaks planned unit development will have 336 apartments, up from 280, in addition to previously approved 34 homes.
Even with the added apartment units, the project’s 18-acre apartment side, which will have entrances on Airline and Germany Road, will remain under the 20 units per acre that the underlying mixed-use zoning would have allowed without the PUD zoning.
The number of apartments per acre is expected to rise from 15.5 to 18.7, planning documents show.
Developer Chris Ingram, president of Ascension Properties, said Monday that he had sought the additional units to help cover the expense of a turn lane from his project onto Airline Highway that he said he was asked late in the planning process to build.
Ingram said his original project proposal had 81 more parking spaces than were required and had three-story apartment buildings that made partial use of the third floor.
“I was just adding to the tops of buildings because I had the parking lots to do it. That’s all,” Ingram said.
He said the changes won’t alter the previously approved footprint or heights of the apartment buildings, but the buildings will now have a full eight units on the third floor, instead of four. The first and second floors already have eight units.
Planning Director Rick Compton told the Planning Commission Feb. 10 that by adding turn lanes on Airline and Germany, the developer has fulfilled all of his traffic responsibilities.
“The addition of the (56 apartment) units was negligible to what the impact was to the traffic,” Compton told the commissioners.
Future neighbor C.J. Barrois, who lives along the east side of the project, asked for subsurface drainage between his home and the project over fears the parish would not keep up a proposed ditch, drawing rodents and mosquitoes.
“These swales and drainage ditches are not maintained,” Barrois said.
But Commissioner Joshua Ory suggested subsurface drainage could have the same problems with lack of maintenance. The commission backed Silver Oaks unanimously without specific conditions on drainage.
But the commission did require Silver Oaks to have separate pools and clubhouses. As originally envisioned when the project was approved last year, residents in the single-family side of Silver Oaks would have had access to a pool in the apartment complex.
But Ingram said Monday that banks and insurers didn’t want the liability of having someone from one side using amenities on the other side.
Compton told the commissioners Feb. 10 that in exchange for closing off access, Ingram must build similar amenities on open space already on the single-family part of the development.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.