The housing market is booming and inventory is still low. Developers want to take advantage of this on some wetlands just west of Lewisburg Estates close to Mandeville. The wetlands are located at the mouth of the Chinchuba Bayou flood plan that is made up of marsh grasses and cypress trees.
The current landowners have applied for a coastal use permit through St. Tammany parish. This coast permit would allow them to fill in the wetland site and lake bottom. Their plan is to add a bulkhead and a private road. This would be the first step in developing the land for future homesites.
Many in the community are distraught about the thought of future development on the wetlands. Filling the lake in would lead to flooding and change the ecological landscape that could hurt the community.
According to John Lopez, a coastal scientist who reviewed the permit for the development for the Lewisburg Civic Association, says that it could cause flooding in the Mandeville area. He confirmed that the wetlands are healthy enough to allow cypress trees to grow but should not be developed.
He reported that if the wetland is developed, the filled land would slow down the water’s exit from the Bayou Chinchuba watershed into Lake Pontchartrain. A bulkhead could also exacerbate erosion in adjacent areas.
State environmental agencies also report a negative impact. The filled land would replace 2.5 acres of shallow intertidal habitat that is home to submerged aquatic vegetation and where Indian manatees also call home. The Indian manatee is a threatened species already.
The state Department of Natural Resources did a biological investigation report for the project. Their findings indicated that there are plenty of other lakefront properties that are available to develop in the same area.
“Each little slice of shoreline, marsh and productive waters taken away hurts the lake, the aquatic culture, and the birds and animals whose lives depend on this type of habitat,” David Lawton, a Lewisburg resident communicated.
This piece of wetland has been in discussion for decades. Many developers have wanted to develop the property but have not gone through the plans due to opposition from residents, environmental groups and local and state officials.
“Everybody wants a piece of paradise. There ain’t enough paradise to go around anymore so you got to create paradise out of the wetlands and the marsh,” Ted Ralph, a nearby resident and retired federal engineer, said as he pointed out the site of the proposed development from his fishing boat.