MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - On Wednesday, Mandeville Council members demanded that developers of the Port Marigny project change the project's design before moving forward, and residents of Old Mandeville agreed they do not want Port Marigny to be built as planned.
"If I could ask the citizens here by show of hands, how many are against a high density development?" resident Cedric Barker ask the crowd during a special council meeting. Most in attendance raised their hands.
Many residents worry that transforming a barren piece of land near Lake Pontchartrain would disrupt their small town feel. The plan is to build on 42 of the 73-acre lot that used to be a concrete manufacturing facility. The proposed development would include 416 living units, 60,000 square feet of commercial space, a marina, green space as well as a possible hotel on the city's lakefront.
Residents feel that is too dense and would drastically affect traffic in the small community.
"The purpose is to lessen congestion and to prevent overcrowding and undo concentration. This is highly concentrated by any interpretation," resident Tommy Harris said.
Council members presented findings to developers to change the project's design in order to follow their interpretations of city ordinances. The council wants town homes and condo lots to increase in size (meaning fewer units), increased green space and restored outdated streets.
Members made 17 demands, essentially telling developers to go back to the drawing board. However, the project has already been approved by the city's Planning and Zoning Commission and is following city ordinances.
The developer's attorney argued that the council is interpreting the Comprehension Land Use Regulation Ordinance incorrectly.
"We are now getting to the point where not only are the directions unclear, they've almost become unworkable," landowner attorney Richard Muller told council members.
The landowner, Mike Pittman, often shook his head in disgust during the meeting and felt council members' demands will push his decades-long project out of town.
"They're talking about it being a high density development when the city's own land-use ordinance defines this as a low density development. It's quite a monkey wrench they are throwing in the works at this very late stage of the game," spokesman James Hartman said.
The council wants to make a decision on whether it will approve the project sometime before Thanksgiving.
The developer says even if the council votes it down, he will still pursue the project.