POSTED: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 4:00am
UPDATED: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 11:18am
Scotlandville, LA (NBC33) — Dozens of University Place residents will get to meet the real estate agents hired by the city-parish to assist them in moving away from the North Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The meeting can take place because a federal judge approved a modified consent decree that allows East Baton Rouge Parish to build a buffer zone around the facility to mitigate some of the health hazards associated with it. (To read the judge's order and the modified consent decree, click on the attachment at the bottom of this page.)
"That's another major step, that this community has basically, hopefully, crossed over," said Greg Mitchell, who lives directly across from the sewer plant, "to move forward in the process of getting the community buyout done."
But before anyone can move away, a construction project is making all those problems worse.
"You can see the pictures and things shaking on the wall," Mitchell described. "You can feel the vibrations as you sit in the chair; you can hear the dishes rattle in the cabinet."
The Department of Public Works is installing new pipes, which will carry waste from Zachary to the plant. One member of the construction crew told NBC33 that workers know it will also bring more of the problems that led to the buyout plan.
People who live in University Place say the sewer plant made them sick, the smell burned their noses every day, and sewer flies constantly get into their homes.
"We're putting up a buffer zone," Mitchell noted, "but we're bringing in more sewage, so that's going to affect more people!"
East Baton Rouge Parish will buy 41 homes around the plant, demolish them, and install trees to mitigate the smell, at a total price of roughly $6 million. Now that the settlement is legally valid, Mitchell says he and his neighbors can finally think about getting into a new home in a much nicer neighborhood.
"We can't recover everything that we've lost," he said. "It's just not possible. But we do want to be able to recover those things which are just, for us to move on and live a decent life, in a decent environment, with our families."
The residents in the buyout zone got a letter earlier this week telling them about the meeting and informing them about which of the city-parish's real estate agents would work with them. Mitchell said his biggest concern heading into that meeting is, "that the people of this community are not rushed into anything, that they are comfortable in the judgments that they are making."
The community meeting will take place on Monday, July 1, at 6:00 p.m., at the Scotlandville Branch Library (7373 Scenic Highway ).
|6-18-13 Order Granting Extension.pdf ||531.34 KB|