New Rouzan phase adds 103 lots

The city-parish Planning Commission gave its nod to a new phase to the Rouzan traditional neighborhood development at its meeting Monday, a phase that would offer 103 more lots for the controversial development.

The Metro Council is expected to consider the recommendation at its July 16 meeting.

Developer J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa said the additional lots are the most significant phase of Rouzan, which is adjacent to Southdowns, south of Glasgow Avenue and west of Perkins Road.

Bob Welch, one of two property owners in the middle of the development who have fought against Rouzan, urged the commission to reject Spinosa’s request. Welch and Danny Hoover noted that the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled earlier this year that Spinosa improperly took and obstructed their court-filed, 30-foot-wide servitude to Glasgow. The Louisiana Supreme Court denied a request to reverse that ruling and the two homeowners are seeking damages against Spinosa and the Planning Commission for improper rezoning.

“Respect the opinion of the court and our rights as property owners and not support this project any longer,” Welch said.

But Spinosa noted that the area in the new phase is not related to Welch and Hoover’s property or servitude issues. “This is unrelated,” Spinosa said.

The fifth phase, which is between Mimosa Street and Cheneau Lane, had the support of the Southside Civic Association.

Councilwoman Tara Wicker, who chairs the commission, voted in favor of the additional phase, along with Commissioners Laurie Marien, Steven Perret, John Price and W.T. Winfield. Commissioners Greg DuCote and Sarah Holiday-James voted against the measure. Commissioners Darius Bonton and James Gilmore Jr. were absent.

In other business:

JEFFERSON OFFICE PARK: The commission deferred action on a 75,000-square-foot office park on Jefferson Highway, next to the Millennium apartments, until its July 21 meeting over concerns about how it would connect to adjacent properties and Cedar Lodge. Beau Box, who represents Iberia Bank, which is trying to sell the property, will meet with Phil Witter, who owns the adjoining land.

STARBUCKS/NEWK’S EATERY: The commission approved the final development plan for a building on Corporate Boulevard, next to Towne Center, which will include a Starbucks Coffee and a Newk’s Eatery. The 6,350-square-foot building will contain 900 square feet of outdoor patio space.

NEW DIRECTOR: The commission welcomed Frank Duke on his first day on the job as city-parish planning director. “I’m thrilled to be here and I’m very impressed with the staff you have blessed me with,” said Duke, a former planner for Norfolk, Virginia. “I look forward to working with the staff, citizens and developers as we work toward the future.” And Duke came with a request for the commission: Name Ryan Holcomb, who had served as interim planning director since late 2013, as assistant planning director. The commission approved the measure, although Holiday-James, who was absent when the vote was taken, complained about a lack of transparency and expressed concerns about not following procedures to select an assistant director.

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