Court won’t rehear Rouzan invalid zoning ruling

An appellate panel refused a rehearing of the decision that declared invalid the city-parish ordinance that enabled Baton Rouge developer J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa to begin construction of his Rouzan traditional neighborhood development.

Spinosa has the legal option of filing a writ with the Louisiana Supreme Court and asking for a decision in favor of his 2590 Associates LLC and Rouzan.

The marketing director for Rouzan, Kelly Vastine, said: “We were hopeful the (1st Circuit Court of Appeal) would grant a rehearing. However, we are preparing to move forward with our appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court.”

The attorney for two Rouzan opponents surrounded by Spinosa’s partially completed development tempered pleasure in the court decision with concern over Monday’s scheduled Planning Commission meeting.

“We are pleased with the (court) decision, and the result was expected,” said Alex St. Amant, attorney for Rouzan opponents Daniel Hoover and Bob Welch.

“Although the judiciary has addressed and ruled on every issue raised, on Monday the city-parish and the developer will appear before the Planning Commission with a proposal to change the law and ex post facto reverse the court’s decision,” St. Amant added.

“We will do what is necessary to maintain the justice we have received to date,” St. Amant said.

Vastine replied for Rouzan: “At present, we have no requests pending with the Planning Commission, but we continue to pursue all options.”

The disputed zoning authorized Spinosa’s firm to build commercial establishments and multifamily housing, as well as use small lots for single-family housing along Glasgow Avenue, immediately south of the Southdowns neighborhood.

Without that zoning, Spinosa’s development would revert to A-1 single-family.

The Hoover and Welch families, who live in two homes on five acres near the center of Rouzan’s surrounding 119 acres, have argued for more than six years that the TND rezoning was improper because city-parish rules required Spinosa to have control over the entire 124 acres. They also argued 2590 Associates improperly blocked a recorded 30-foot-wide servitude they had used for direct access to Glasgow.

A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal — John T. Pettigrew, J. Michael McDonald and James E. Kuhn — agreed with Hoover and Welch last month.

Through attorney Brian L. McCullough, Spinosa asked the panel for a rehearing last week.

In that filing, Spinosa argued that allowing the panel’s February decision to stand would mean “there is essentially no immovable property susceptible to be rezoned as a (Traditional Neighborhood Development).”

Through St. Amant, Hoover and Welch told the appellate panel that they believed Spinosa’s request for rehearing “should be denied because no new argument is presented for this court’s consideration, and each issue and supporting argument was presented to the court previously and rejected.”

On Wednesday, the 1st Circuit panel again agreed with Welch and Hoover.

The agenda for Monday’s Planning Commission meeting includes a proposed amendment of the city-parish ordinance for all Traditional Neighborhood Developments.

The potential amendment would drop a requirement that a developer prove his or her “control of the entire area” of a proposed TND in order to receive TND zoning.

In place of that wording would be a requirement that a developer control all land included in the proposed TND zoning district.