St. Tammany OKs revived subdivision over neighbors’ flooding concerns

The St. Tammany Parish Council gave the go-ahead for the revival of a dormant subdivision near a nature preserve northwest of Covington on Thursday, despite flooding, sewerage and traffic concerns raised by opponents of the 60-home development.

Matthew Allen, of Little Tchefuncte River Association, appealed the parish Planning Commission’s June decision to approve Pruden Creek subdivision, arguing that the area is vulnerable to flooding and, therefore, allowing slab-on-grade construction is a bad idea.

“You are going to put 60 families in jeopardy,” he told the Parish Council.

Even if homes don’t flood, he said, the river can rise suddenly, flooding streets and cars.

The area flooded during Hurricane Isaac and, most recently, in January and has seen about eight floods in the last 50 years, including one that Allen said drowned a flock of goats.

Allen also questioned the developer’s sewerage plans, saying that they needed to take flooding into account. After seven years, a new traffic study should be ordered to account for growth.

Although the proposed 24-acre subdivision received preliminary approval from the parish in 2006 and 2007, the project never materialized and the parish approval expired.

But Jeff Schoen, who appeared on behalf of new developers, said that the plan is exactly the same as that approved earlier, with one key exception that he thought would please neighbors. Treated wastewater from the sewer treatment plant will flow into a public right of way instead of across the Lake Ramsey Preserve, a 583-acre property owned by the Nature Conservancy that is adjacent to the Lake Ramsey Wildlife Management area.

That change, which Schoen said was brought up at parish Planning Commission meeting, will cost the developer $25,000.

“We thought it was a good suggestion and a progressive change,” he said.

Pruden Creek also will abide by agreements made under the previous developer with the Nature Conservancy, he said. And he noted that parish regulations require new development to reduce flow by 25 percent.

Councilman James “Red’’ Thompson said that the Parish Council had the “same conversation” six years ago.

“The plans are exactly the same, except for rerouting the sewage,” he said, offering a motion to concur with the Planning Commission decision.

The motion passed unanimously. Two councilmen, Marty Gould and Steve Stefancik, were absent.