Citizens express condo opinions

Published 3:57 am Saturday, October 5, 2019

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A proposed development of residential condominium units in Bogalusa was the cause of much controversy Tuesday night, during the Bogalusa City Council’s regular meeting.

David Strange, president and CEO of Roanoak Development, LLC, of Ridgeland, Miss., was the guest speaker early in the council’s meeting.

Strange’s company is proposing to build a 42-unit gated housing development called “The Gates at Mill Creek.” The location of the development would be between West 15th Street and West 16th Street, and Avenue H and Avenue I.

The proposal is for a gated community composed of 1,500 square-foot condominium units with garages, a community building with a gym, and substantial green spaces and recreational areas. Strange said that the residences would allow for citizens to move from paying rental fees to paying an affordable mortgage.

“We develop these neighborhoods throughout the Southeast,” Strange said.

The council will vote on whether to grant a special-use permit for construction of the project, at the next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 5:30 p.m.

During the public participation portion of the council meeting, several citizens spoke about the proposed housing development.

Alan Fortenberry said he lives on Avenue I and is concerned the project would harm what is a quiet neighborhood.

“We don’t like it,” he said. “We as a neighborhood, we try to stick together. It’s quiet up there. That’s the reason we moved there years ago. … This is going to bring in drainage problems, sewer problems — we’re going to look at between 60 and 85 cars if all this is put in there, more on our roads than what’s on there now.”

After speaking, Fortenberry was applauded by multiple citizens in the audience.

Harry Powell, who lives on Avenue G, said that there are already more than enough vacant homes available in Bogalusa, and that the real problem is there needs to be better jobs.

Matt Parker, who lives on Avenue I, said that he did not feel the citizens had “fair say” in the project’s proposal, because they were unaware of Planning and Zoning meeting to discuss the plan. City council member Oneita Graham said that the city followed the law by placing official notices in the city’s official journal, The Daily News.

“We need to seriously look at how we conduct business — that is not fair business practice,” said Parker, arguing that not enough people read the newspaper and that public notices should be advertised in other ways as well.

Callie Duncan, who lives on Avenue I, said that she is a college student and a “millennial,” who is considered one of the target demographics for modern homes such as the proposed project. Duncan said that she and her peers would like living in such a project, but the option is not available to them in Bogalusa because there are not enough good-paying jobs available.

“It would be nice for Bogalusa to have these nice homes, but people won’t live in them,” she said. “There’s nothing in Bogalusa for us to do. There’s no jobs that pay more than minimum wage for us to work.”

Stephen Moses, who lives on Avenue H, said that he would “love to see Bogalusa grow … but grow in the right direction.”

Moses said that the project would negatively impact citizens who already live in the community. He encouraged city council members to go visit the proposed construction area and talk to those who live in the surrounding neighborhood, before they decide how to vote.

While the majority of citizens spoke out against the project, not all did. Tiye Yayu, who lives on Patterson Drive, said that she thought it was strange that people constantly complain about blight and run-down neighborhoods, yet many are also against a project that could theoretically improve property values and the appearance of a neighborhood.

Strange said that he plans to return for the next city council meeting as well.


In other business, the council:

  • Adopted Resolution Title 2 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes 2019. This resolution is in reference to the Bogalusa Airport.
  • Introduced three ordinances, which will be open for public discussion and then voted upon at the council’s next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

The first ordinance would amend Article IV Division 2 of the Bogalusa City Code by adding language and code sections to allow for the possible operation of food trucks.

The second ordinance would approve the Planning and Zoning Board’s request to close North Royal Street between Convenience Street and Church Street, with an alleyway between Convenience Street and Church Street, west of North Royal Street and Servitude Street.

The third ordinance would be to grant a special use permit to give American Dream Homes of Washington Parish, LLC, permission for condos between West 15th Street and West 16th Street, and Avenue I and H. Block 28, Lot 1-40.

  • Failed to adopt a proposed ordinance to establish a Volunteer Code Enforcement Reserve. Council vice president Danielle Keys made a motion, but it failed for lack of a second.
  • Heard monthly reports from Bogalusa Police Chief Kendall Bullen and Bogalusa Fire Chief Richard Moody.

Bullen said that his department responded to 1,233 complaints in September. The BPD made 220 arrests — 127 misdemeanors, 34 felonies and 59 traffic related. The BPD responded to 35 accidents, worked six escorts, and responded to no DWIs.

Moody said that the Bogalusa Fire Department did not work a single structure fire in September. The BFD responded to six grass fires, one vehicle fire, seven motor-vehicle accidents, eight false alarms, 28 service calls, 76 medical calls and three Hazmat/power line calls.

The next meeting of the Bogalusa City Council will be Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 5:30 p.m. at Bogalusa City Hall, located at 214 Arkansas St.