PORT ALLEN — The city is making inroads to gobble up undeveloped land and a residential community totaling some 230 acres in an annexation effort to expand the city’s western boundaries.

Mayor Richard Lee on Monday told members of the City Council he met with the Lafayette-based attorney he had hired to guide the city on extending the city’s limits.

“We’ve been discussing this for the past couple of months,” Lee said.

City officials hope to draw in about 200 acres of undeveloped land along Court Street — between Allendale Drive and Turner Road. City leaders have also set their sights on a residential community of about 75 properties adjacent to the undeveloped land between Rosedale Dale Road and Louisiana Avenue. The community adds about 30 acres to the city’s targeted area for growth.

“We’re basically landlocked to the south and north and we have the (Mississippi) river to the east,” the city’s Chief Administrative Officer Adrian Genre said in an interview before Monday night’s meeting. “The only chance for significant development is to look to the west of us.”

Genre said the council and mayor want to acquire the 200 acres of undeveloped land as quickly as possible since the area was recently designated as a “shovel-ready” site for economic development by the parish’s Chamber of Commerce.

City officials would rather see the land used for residential development instead of industrial growth, Genre said.

The attorney aiding the city will jump-start the process by drafting a survey outlining the target area for the boundary expansion. Genre said city officials will then need to gain signatures in support of the annexation from 51 percent of the registered voters who own property within the proposed boundaries.

The entire process could take up to a year or longer, he said.

In an unrelated item, the council also gave the mayor the authority to apply for a $100,000 federal grant to help finance a walking trail along Whitehead Boulevard. The new trail would connect to the preexisting one that runs along the Mississippi River levee-top park near City Hall.

Lee said the grant application is due July 1, necessitating the need for Monday’s special meeting.

“I was approached by a designer that said this grant was available to us if we connected this walking trail to the walking trail on the levee,” the mayor said. “This trail would also tie-in to the Centennial Park we’re getting to build this year.”

The proposed trail would be less than a mile long and feature decorated benches and lighting. It would be the second addition to the linear park along the levee in West Baton Rouge in recent years.

The levee top park was extended in 2014 to the north by 3,268 feet to build a paved walking/bike trail through the city’s partnership with West Baton Rouge Parish, which shared half of the construction cost of the extension.

“It makes sense,” Councilman R.J. Loupe said. “The area is already heavily walked. The levee is right in my backyard and I guarantee I see lots of people walking it every day.”

The mayor said should the city receive the grant funding, the project would roll out in two phases over the next two years.

“This creates connectivity. We’re really trying to promote a lot of foot traffic in the downtown area,” Genre said. “Similar to what Baton Rouge has done.”

Follow Terry Jones on Twitter @tjonesreporter.

Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.