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Prairieville condominium project obtains early approval, needs council decision

Michael Tortorich
A 60-unit condominium complex, The Lakes at Henderson Bayou, received a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission. The development would be located just south of Hwy. 42 and access Hwy. 44 in Prairieville.

The Ascension Parish Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-2 at its Sept. 9 meeting to recommend approval of a proposed two-story, 60-unit condominium development near the Hwy. 42 and Hwy. 44 junction.

The Lakes at Henderson Bayou, a roughly 66,000 square-foot complex, would add to a rapidly growing area of the parish, where traffic and drainage have been among the top concerns of residents. 

The commission’s vote serves as a recommendation to the full parish council, which would ultimately decide the planned unit development’s fate.

Sura Family LLC, registered to Baton Rouge psychiatrist Ashwin B. Sura, plans to build on a nearly five-acre tract near the Coloring Wheel daycare center, and the residential street Misty Oak Court. 

Several businesses are located along bustling Hwy. 42 near the proposed location, including Walmart's Neighborhood Market, Sonic Drive-In, Dollar General, Lake Urgent Care, Galvez Hardware, and many others.

During the meeting, Joe Labbe of Quality Engineering and Surveying said the complex would be accessible by a 24-foot access drive from Hwy. 44.

Walking trails border the property, which would also include a fitness area, pavilion, and playground, Labbe added.

Joseph Rizzo, who said he lives on Misty Oak Court, expressed concerns about the proposal. Flooding has been a problem in the area, he said.

After Rizzo’s questions, the 10-minute meeting concluded with a 4-2 vote. 

“This is just a recommendation; the council can do whatever they want,” Chair Matthew Pryor said.

Just prior to adjourning the meeting, Pryor thanked member Wade Schexnaydre for his service to the commission. Schexnaydre, who voted no on the item, was said to have stepped down from his position.

In other matters concerning parish government last week:

-- The parish recreation committee met Sept. 8, hearing a report from Recreation Director B.J. Romano, as well as recently-ratified Director of Planning and Facilities Ricky Compton.

Lighting improvements are slated for three parish parks, which are Butch Gore, St. Amant, and Stevens parks.

Compton said the parish has been spending an inordinate amount of time and money repairing broken lights and wooden poles.

The previous council budgeted $1 million for the work, according to Compton.

He also updated the committee on the skate park and a competition wood floor for the parish’s gym renovation.

Additionally, Compton talked to committee members about hiring a contractor to assist with mowing grass. The plan would free up parish employees to focus on other duties.

Later in the meeting, Romano said property adjacent to Prairieville Park is slated to be cleared soon for a proposed dog park.

Compton said he reached out through Twitter with representatives of Raising Canes concerning adding dog parks in the parish. Baton Rouge’s BREC park system has dog parks around East Baton Rouge Parish branded by the restaurant.

-- During the Sept. 8 finance committee meeting, Ascension Economic Development President and CEO Kate MacArthur said CF Industries will invest $42 million in the Donaldsonville site. 

The project will create seven new permanent jobs and an annual payroll increase of $700,000, according to MacArthur’s presentation. 

She said further information will be forthcoming from Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office.

MacArthur added that one out of every 10 CF Industries employees lives in Donaldsonville. Many Donaldsonville residents are initially hired, then move out of the area, particularly to the east bank, after working there for a few years, she added.

The Donaldsonville Nitrogen Complex is located on 1,400 acres along the west bank of the river. It is the world’s largest nitrogen facility, according to the company’s website.