Luling area residents packed last Thursday’s St. Charles Parish Planning Commission meeting in opposition of the proposed Heather Oaks subdivision, but commissioners unanimously approved the preliminary plat for the project.
Planning Director Michael Albert said residents can again comment on the 169-lot project at the construction phase and again on the final plat.
Lafayette developer Cliff Guidry said he reconfigured the project to address residents’ concerns raised in September when he initially proposed the 52-acre development that was rejected by the commission. Guidry also said he considered his recent public meeting with residents a success.
The development neighbors Lakewood and Willowdale communities.
Danny Hebert, engineer for the project, said they addressed area residents’ numerous questions, including the lots have bigger frontages of 80 to 90 feet.
Hebert again emphasized this is a multistep process toward getting approval for the subdivision that would allow further public input.
Property value, a retention pond, as well as road entrances and exits were among concerns raised and addressed at the public meeting, Hebert said. He also said Guidry was talking to new builders.
“I think you see a developer working with the parish,” Hebert told commissioners. “If the plat passes, we’ll have another public information meeting to provide more information.”
Group spokesman Tommy Faucheux thanked Guidry for the public meeting, but said he still had concerns about traffic congestion with multiple entrances to the neighborhood. Faucheux also asked about clearing the property and whether debris would be burned, but Guidry was advised he could not get a burn permit because of the proximity to residences.
Faucheux, as did other residents, asked the commission to delay the vote or outright reject the project again.
He also expressed concern about the potential of Guidry selling the property to another buyer, which would not require public input.
Guidry responded he has “zero intention” of selling the property to another developer. He added at least 43 lots are already committed to residents.
Faucheux added, “I would hope this doesn’t become a cookie cutter neighborhood.”
Reanda Fields Pierre, a Realtor with Keller Williams Reality, told the commission the custom homes with this project would be a welcome addition to the area, as well as one desired by home buyers in an affordable price.
Numerous residents who also opposed the project expressed concerns about lessened quality of life and whether it was a good fit for the area, as well as whether this project represented “smart growth.”
“I would hope this doesn’t become a cookie cutter neighborhood.”- Tommy Faucheux
Others cited worries about possible traffic congestion and danger, and said that the loop configuration for the additional roads could draw heavier traffic.
Hebert said they anticipate an additional 798 vehicle trips a day in and out of the subdivision.
Resident John Hodge said he opposed the development because he believed the traffic impact would be much higher. He also asked where the water runoff will go without the retention ponds that were removed from the project.
“I don’t think the parish is set up for the drainage, schools and traffic,” Hodge said. “I don’t think the parish has a plan should this plat pass.”
Residents also questioned the project’s impact on local schools.
Hebert’s wife, Julie, who handles permitting on the project, told the group the schools are not overcrowded and that Heather Oaks would accommodate growth with expansions at plants like Monsanto and Valero.
“We need a place to live,” she said. “We’ve done our research. I just want to open our doors to other people.”
Heather Oaks forward
- Developer Cliff Guidry cleared the first hurdle with the project by getting Planning Commission approval for the preliminary plat.
- This is the first of a multistep process where Luling residents can again comment to the Planning Commission on project construction and the final plat.
- Engineer Danny Hebert told the commission that Guidry was willing to meet with residents again on the project.