In The Advocate of June 5, a front-page article reported on Future BR, the citys campaign to improve traffic connectivity. John Fregonese, of the Oregon firm heading Future BR, said that talk of new streets going through neighborhoods need not get homeowners unnecessarily nervous.
Directly following that was stated the real-life concern that DOES get homeowners nervous increased traffic whizzing by their houses. Bill Reich, a lead planner behind the Rouzan development on Perkins Road which is surrounded by three major existing subdivisions, said neighbors sometimes object to more roads tying into their neighborhoods. They are sometimes pejoratively termed NIMBYs, i.e., not-in-my-backyard protectionists.
When Rouzan was approved 3? years ago, it was proudly hailed as the citys first traditional neighborhood development. We in the long-existing neighborhoods of Southdowns, Pollard Estates and Woodchase were nervous, after learning that this 120 acres of commercial/retail/multistory apartments/residential development would result in about 10,000 additional vehicle trips per day.
Considering that Rouzan fronts on Perkins Road, on which at times traffic backs up from College Drive well past the Rouzan frontage, it didnt take us long to realize that traffic in and out of Rouzan naturally would take the path of least resistance, i.e., through our neighborhoods. Increased traffic whizzing by our houses, indeed.
We found ourselves pitted against some of the most powerful persons in Baton Rouge, who thought they knew better than we did how we should live in our own neighborhoods. They had latched onto the New Urbanism-wrought traditional neighborhood development theme, and we were labeled anti-progressive.
That theme disingenuously ignores the impact of the commercialism included in such development on the neighborhoods that are adjacent to or surround it.
Let it be said that our neighborhoods already are traditional, having been lived in and loved by generations of families for many decades.
What is it we don't have that the New Urbanites say we're lacking? We have schools, both public and private; we have churches; and we have some of the best connectivity in Baton Rouge, both within ourselves and with the larger thoroughfares. What we don't have are the commercial buildings, the retail outlets, and the multistory apartment buildings interspersed among our homes; we're quite happy with those establishments being on nearby Perkins Road.
Everyone knows the legal and financial problems that Rouzan's developer has had. We suggest a solution which should please all three parties in this long-standing issue. The developer populates Rouzan with upscale, single-family residences, excluding all commercial buildings; he sells them at a handsome profit and gets out. The New Urbanites tout the connectivity between the new and existing neighborhoods. And we welcome our new neighbors to our own backyards.
John C. Berry