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St. Tammany Council Grants Zoning Change for Brookstone Park Apartments

Council grants zoning change

Apartments get OK southwest of Covington
Friday, February 15, 2008
By Charlie Chapple

The St. Tammany Parish Council, despite opposition from about 30 residents Thursday night, reversed a December decision by the Zoning Commission and granted a zoning change sought by developers for a 240-unit apartment complex southwest of Covington.

At the urging of Councilman Marty Dean, who represents the area, the council voted 12-1 to rezone almost 15 acres west of Louisiana 21 from Suburban Agriculture to A-6 Multifamily for the complex proposed by PPQ Development, a company headed by Pratt Provosty and Quentin Dastugue, a former state legislator who lives in Mandeville.

The property is south of Jasmine Drive and west of Normandy Oaks subdivision. It abuts the southwest corner of the Maison du Lac retirement community that's under construction.

Residents of Normandy Oaks argued against the zoning change, saying it would set a precedent for more multifamily developments in an area surrounded by single-family homes or vacant land.

The 15 acres are part of 300 undeveloped acres zoned Suburban Agriculture, Normandy Oaks resident Joann Hamburger said, which should be rezoned in a comprehensive manner.

"We want it done comprehensively" and not hodgepodge, she said.

"We feel like A-6 is being jammed down our throats," said Charles Thomason, another Normandy Oaks resident. The parish later this year will comprehensively rezone the entire area to conform with new zoning codes adopted by the council last year, Thomason said.

"Let the comprehensive rezoning take its course" he said.

Opponents of the rezoning said it will result in "an island of multifamily" on property that currently has no access.

But Jeff Schoen, attorney for the developers, said the property borders the proposed four-lane extension of Oschner Boulevard. Construction of the new road has already started, he said.

Schoen said developers have taken extra steps to address concerns raised by residents. The property will be deed-restricted to no more than 240 units, he said, and there will be no street connecting the complex to Normandy Oaks.

Schoen also said that Covington area businessman and developer Bruce Wainer, who owns the adjacent 285 acres of vacant property, has no plans for additional multifamily developments in the area. Wainer plans to seek single-family and neighborhood commercial zoning for the rest of the property in April, Schoen said.

Dean said he feels the project is a good development. And he moved to override the commission's denial of the zoning change. Only Rebecca Crawford-Howell of Pearl River voted against the reversal. Henry Billiot of Mandeville was out of the meeting room.

Schoen said the complex will be a gated community with a clubhouse, swimming pool, business center and other amenities in a campus setting. The $22 million development will offer one-, two- and three-bedroom luxury apartments renting for $835 to $1,300 per month, he said.

Construction is expected to begin this summer, he said.

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Charlie Chapple can be reached at cchapple@timespicayune.com or (985) 898-4828.

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