Lakes at Legacy

Tom Balhoff speaks at a meeting Thursday night at St. Thomas More Catholic Church about the Lakes at Legacy. The Lakes at Legacy is an 87-acre development that would be built on the site of the old Sherwood Forest Country Club golf course. Balhoff, who said he lives on what used be the second fairway of the golf course, said he's concerned the subdivision will affect drainage.

After months of delays, a controversial plan to rezone part of the former Sherwood Forest Country Club to build a 276-lot subdivision on the site will go before the East Baton Rouge Parish Planning Commission on Monday.

Developer Art Lancaster wants to build the Lakes at Legacy over an 87-acre section that is currently part of the golf course. But neighbors are concerned the development would make drainage problems in the area worse, cause traffic disruptions and lower home values.

Tom Balhoff, who lives in Sherwood Forest on what used to be the second fairway of the golf course, said most of the surrounding homes took on several feet of water during the August 2016 flood. He's worried raising the elevation of the golf course and building hundreds of homes will make flooding worse and change the natural flow of rainwater from his property to Jones Creek.

"You've got somebody that wants to come in here into a mature neighborhood and they want to build this up," Balhoff said. "Not only do they want to build this up, they want to change the zoning so they can put more houses, more concrete and more impervious space."

The rezoning request and subdivision plans were first set to go before the planning commission at its Aug. 19 meeting. Lancaster had originally sought to rezone the property as rural, so he could build narrower lots that made the development economically feasible. Some nearby residents said they were concerned a rural rezoning would open the door for things such as shooting galleries, mobile home parks and sno-ball stands. Lancaster is now seeking A2.7 zoning, which allows for 50-foot-wide lots as opposed to the 75-foot-wide lots the current A1 zoning requires.

Plans to discuss the issue in September were delayed by East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilman Scott Wilson until Oct. 21, with the applicant's consent. Lancaster also is seeking a further delay until the November commission meeting.

The Lakes at Legacy has been modified since it was first introduced. A second entrance onto Ashbourne Drive has been added; a drainage servitude at the back of the development has been widened from 15 feet to 50 feet; a buffer between homes and the Foxcroft subdivision has been expanded by an acre; and a few lots have been shaved from the original plan.

The Planning Commission staff has said the rezoning and subdivision plans meet the minimum requirements in the parish's development code. 

"We have not heard anything negative from the city in terms of meeting the requirements," said Mickey Robertson, the civil engineer for the Lakes at Legacy.

But Balhoff contends the drainage plans are based off outdated data that doesn't take into account extreme rainfall that has occurred in recent years.

Robertson said the drainage plans are not based on outdated data. "We use the most current information from the city-parish," he said. "Subdivisions these days are not designed to flood people."

Phillip Fetterman, a retired engineer who lives near Balhoff, said the new houses will cause traffic problems in the area. The main entrance into the Lakes at Legacy will be on King Richard Drive, meaning there will be thousands of additional vehicles on the street and spilling over onto surrounding major roads.

Robertson said steps have been taken to alleviate traffic problems. "We know traffic was a concern in the beginning, so we added a second entrance," he said.

Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.