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Council approves resolution supporting New Orleans as Super Bowl 2018 site

The Metro Council has unanimously approved Mayor-President Kip Holden’s resolution urging the NFL to pick New Orleans as the site for the 2018 Super Bowl.

The item passed with no discussion among members, and no one from the public speaking for or against the resolution.

In the little bit of discussion before the resolutions’s swift approval Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe jokingly asked whether there was “anyone from the Super Bowl” in attendance to speak on behalf of the item. After it passed, Loupe  (again, jokingly) referred to it as the “lieutenant governor’s resolution.” Holden has been openly weighing a run for lieutenant governor in 2015.

Mayor declares today Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day

Ronnie Edwards bumps fist with her oncologist Dr. Jay Brooks.

Ronnie Edwards bumps fist with her oncologist Dr. Jay Brooks.

Mayor-President Kip Holden declared Wednesday “Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day” in honor of Councilwoman Ronnie Edward’s December cancer diagnosis.

Edwards has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, the fourth most deadly cancer with a five year survival rate of 6 percent.

“We continue to pray with you and for you,” Holden said. “Thank you for the courage you’ve displayed.”

John Boudreaux, chief development director for Cancer Services,  said Edwards joins 4,500 cancer survivors newly diagnosed every year in the Baton Rouge area.

He said pancreatic cancer is “one of the more daunting statistical battles we’re going to face.”

To read more about Edwards’ prayerful journey with cancer, click here. 

Planning Commission plans to interview three candidates for planning director

The Planning Commission plans to interview three finalists for the planning director job on May 5, including the person currently serving in the role on an interim basis.

During a meeting today, commissioners voted to add interim Planning Director Ryan Holcomb to the mix, based on his experience serving in the role since former Planning Director Troy Bunch retired in November.

The move follows a series of setbacks in the search that have left the Planning Commission with just two finalists from its original list of top candidates. They are Don Broussard of Atlanta and Frank Duke of Norfolk, Va.

At least two Metro Council members – Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe and Councilman John Delgado - have suggested that the job be granted to Holcomb.

“It is apparent that we need to take that “interim” off of your title.  You have my full support,” Delgado wrote in an email to Holcomb that also went to all council members. “Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do for our city and parish.”

During today’s meeting, Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle spoke in support of giving Holcomb an opportunity for consideration.

“We constantly talk about feeding people here in Baton Rouge and helping our own,” she said. “If he is a qualified person, he should be considered. The best and brightest could possibly be right here at home.”

Metro Council hot topics: annexation, Rouzan, landfill permit

The Metro Council is expected to consider a variety of hot topics at today’s meeting.

But they will not be considering a controversial tolerance ordinance that has been repeatedly deferred for the past month. Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle asked that the measure be deleted from the

C. Denise Marcelle

C. Denise Marcelle

Metro Council agenda. She did not answer a phone call or text message, but an assistant parish attorney advised that Marcelle needed more time to clean up the language. The ordinance, likened to the One Baton Rouge resolution from years past, would have banned discrimination in areas of employment and housing based on race, religion and most notably — sexual orientation. No word yet on whether the ordinance will be brought up at a later date.

The Metro Council is also expected to consider annexing three businesses — Costco Wholesale, Celtic Studios and SAIF Credit CelticUnion — into the city of Baton Rouge. Bigger and more significant annexations are expected down the line, as a means for the city-parish to protect its budget from the proposed city of St. George. If St. George successfully incorporates, then it would divert sales tax dollars away from the city-parish budget. If the Metro Council takes a stand against annexing three businesses with a small financial impact, it could mean annexing other heavy weights could prove to be more difficult. Councilman Ryan Heck said the city is close to securing a petition for annexation from the Mall of Louisiana, a lynch pin of the St. George proposed budget. Mall management refused to comment.

The council will also consider a rezoning request necessary for the Rouzan development southwest of Perkins Road and Glasgow

AX030_64DC_9

Avenue. A March court ruling reverted the neighborhood’s zoning back to A-1 residential, and the council will have to decide whether to rezone it Traditional Neighborhood Development. The TND designation allows for smaller lots, and a mix of single-family home, multi-family home and commercial use. Opponents of the development say they will continue to fight if the council decides to rezone it to a TND.

Councilman Trae Welch also plans on taking the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to task over the agency’s AX096_24D7_9approval of a permit approval for an industrial waste landfill in north Baton Rouge. He placed an item on the agenda requesting that DEQ officials appear at the May 14 meeting to explain why they would approve the permit, despite the repeated objections of officials and residents. He also is asking the council to approve a resolution urging the parish attorney’s office to file an injunction to halt the operations of the industrial waste site.

Finally, the council will consider financing a feasibility study to determine whether it can built another connecting road between Highland Road and Burbank Road. The city is eyeing a Kenilworth extension, however, those plans could require the relocation of two businesses, a school and a small cemetery. City officials say they are also considering extending Seyburn Avenue as an alternative to Kenilworth.

 

‘Swamp buggy’ hits the lakes for master planning effort

Workers take borings on the City Park/LSU lakes to test soil composition on April 22, 2014. Photo courtesy BRAF.

Workers take borings on the City Park/LSU lakes to test soil composition on April 22, 2014. Photo courtesyBRAF-run Facebook page, Destination: The Lakes.

A “swamp buggy” has been out on the City Park/LSU lakes this week to take soil samples — the latest in an effort to overhaul the lakes and keep them from reverting to swampland.

A Facebook page providing updates on the Baton Rouge Area Foundation-led lakes master planning effort posted the above photo this week with these details:

The team from Fugro Consultants is using the “swamp buggy” to take 12 samples that will be used to determine the soil composition at the bottom of the lakes. That info will tell master planners the amount of soil to dredged and whether it can be used to build paths and other amenities.

Also, master planners will be hired this summer and will seek input from the community on the future of the lakes.

The BRAF announced late last month that it planned to  launch a master plan to save the lakes. The project has been dubbed Destination: The Lakes.

You can read more about the master plan efforts here.

Another Council member favors naming Holcomb as planning director

A week after Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe suggested that the search for a new planning director should end with interim Planning Director Ryan Holcomb appointed to the position, another Metro Council member also is voicing support for the idea.

Councilman John Delgado says he also backs Holcomb for the position.

“It is apparent that we need to take that “interim” off of your title.  You have my full support,” Delgado wrote in an email to Holcomb that also went to all council members. “Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do for our city and parish.”

The search for a planning director has stretched on for several months and has experienced a series of setbacks, with multiple finalists pulling their names from consideration. After interviews in Baton Rouge, the City-Parish Planning Commission unanimously agreed to offer the job to Cincinnati Planning Director Charles Graves, but Graves declined the offer.

Only two finalists for the position remain: Don Broussard of Atlanta and Frank Duke of Norfolk, Va.

The Planning Commission will meet at 2 p.m. today (Wednesday) to discuss the future of the search. At least one member already is planning to recommend that Holcomb get the job.

Holcomb is interested in the job. In an email to council members this week, he outlined his background and experience.

“My 10-plus years of work experience has been focused on my passion for working in the public sector and helping guide responsible growth and development in the city that I love and grew up in,” he wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Advocate.

Holcomb also wrote that he plans to pursue AICP certification (a designation that several Planning commissioners and others in the planning community have identified as something they would like in the next planning director, though it’s not required), and he’ll be attending the American Planning Association conference later this month to continue professional training.

Holden seeks resolution in support of Super Bowl site selection for N.O.

East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden wants the 2018 Super Bowl to be in New Orleans.

Holden, who has been eyeing a run for lieutenant governor, has requested that the Metro Council sign a resolution urging the NFL to award the site bid to New Orleans, “based particularly upon its past history of having hosted 10 highly successful Super Bowls.”

The resolution request is expected to come up at the Council’s meeting Wednesday.

The last time New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl, in 2013, the Baton Rouge the CVB budgeted about $40,000 from the BP settlement to promote Baton Rouge hotels and flights for fans who were making late accommodations. Officials said they expected millions of dollars would be generated across South Louisiana for the event.

UPDATE: The Metro Council approved the resolution Wednesday. More info here.

Library site suggestions expected ‘in the next few weeks’

The process of picking a new location for a south branch library in East Baton Rouge Parish has hit another snag.

Though Library Board members had expected to receive a report on potential locations for a new library at this month’s meeting, the private consultant needed more time to complete his analysis after receiving feedback from library staff.

“We gave him some feedback and he’s refining it,” assistant library director Patricia Husband said last week.

The board voted in February to hire site consultant Leotta-Evers Consulting, LLC. to help it find a location for the long-awaited south branch library.

Library officials expect to have a completed report, with potential locations, “in the next few weeks.”

Planning Commission schedules special meeting on director search

The City-Parish Planning Commission will have a special meeting at 2 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the ongoing search for a new planning director.

The search has been going on for nearly six months — since before the retirement of former planning director Troy Bunch in November.

After a series of setbacks that have included multiple candidates pulling out of the process and the top pick for the job declining an offer, only two of the finalists for the position remain: Don Broussard of Atlanta and Frank Duke of Norfolk, Va.

Metro Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe, in an email to fellow Metro Council members Wednesday, suggested that the council should move to appoint interim planning director Ryan Holcomb to the post.

Wednesday’s meeting will take place in the council chambers at City Hall.

Planning Commission meets Monday

The City-Parish Planning Commission meets at City Hall at 5 p.m. today (Monday).

Up for discussion: a request from the Rouzan development for TND rezoning and plans for the proposed 13th Gate haunted house and Halloween attraction near Central.

The commission could also discuss the ongoing search for a new planning director. After a series of setbacks that have included multiple candidates pulling out of the process, Metro Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe, in an email to fellow Metro Council members Wednesday, suggested that the council move to appoint interim planning director Ryan Holcomb to the post.

Planning Commissioners are split on that request – with some agreeing that Holcomb should be moved to the permanent post, while others have called for allowing more people to apply for the job.

The search has been going on for nearly six months, since before the retirement of former planning director Troy Bunch in November. Only two of the finalists for the position remain: Don Broussard of Atlanta and Frank Duke of Norfolk, Va.

Here’s the full agenda for tonight’s Planning Commission meeting.