New Zoning Districts proposed to Planning Commission, post-moratorium

According to the Subdivision Status Report included in Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting packet there are 629 residential lots currently In Construction in seven subdivisions.  Construction drawings have been submitted for another 297 lots, with two subdivisions (Windsor Park-92 lots and Windermere Crossing-103 lots) having applied for Final Plat approval.  As the Commission vets amendments to the Unified Land Development Code there has not been a new subdivision plat considered since July 14, 2021.

NOTE: 220 of the Construction Drawing lots are located in Riverton Subdivision (3-5 filings) which cannot proceed until the developer submits the requisite Traffic Impact Analysis study.  The requirement was postponed when Riverton’s preliminary plat was approved in March of 2016 with the condition that it be provided, and approved, before proceeding to the third of ten anticipated filings.

Planning Staff alerted the commission to expect a new preliminary plat submission in next few months as the development community has to contend with a new Development Code, more stringent regulations adopted by the Parish Council during a ten month subdivision moratorium that expired on May 31.  More changes are in the offing, at least they will be proposed by Kendig Keast Collaborative, the outside provider hired to revamp development regulations.

Casso’s last minute changes water down TIA ordinance, subdivision moratorium coming to end

In May the Council codified Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) required of every major/minor subdivision, heightening certain requirements in what had been mere policy, but only after last minute negotiations between two members.  St. Amant’s Chase Melancon deemed it “a pretty good landing spot” when he and Councilwoman Teri Casso were both “about 70% happy.”

The original draft ordinance would have required every leg of any subject intersection within the traffic study to perform at a Level of Service of “D” or better.  Locating such an intersection in Prairieville, one that exists on a roadway 20′ wide (another newly-enacted requirement to develop a subdivision), would be like finding the mythical El Dorado.

“It was very important for me to protect family partitions,” Melancon explained a willingness to compromise.  “It was very important for her constituents to be able to build in the Dutchtown area.”

For all the insipid pablum about Ascension being “one parish,” this “good compromise” evidences the dissimilarities and divergence between the areas encompassed in their respective council districts (not to mention Prairieville, Gonzales Darrow, Acy, Donaldsonville, Modeste…)  Casso and Councilman Aaron Lawler having threatened the sacrosanctity of family partitions, Melancon was outmaneuvered.

The compromise necessitated last minute revisions to a document first revealed to the Planning Commission in February.  One commissioner deemed the original version “a de facto moratorium” due to hyper-stringent application of Level of Service requirements.

More changes are in the offing, at least they will be proposed by Kendig Keast Collaborative, the outside provider hired to revamp development regulations.  The Sugarland TX outfit is working toward less momentous, but still significant, changes to existing Zoning classifications among other recommendations.  Preliminary work product was revealed to the Planning Commission on Wednesday.

Much of the focus is on zoning classifications.  A new category, Countryside, was unveiled which would require large lots and be least dense (see image at top of page).  Kendig Keast’s Brian Mabry also unveiled a newly-defined Conservation zoning category which would combine current Conservation (one lot/acre) and Rural (two lots/acre) classifications.

 

Mabry did not get into many specifics.  He did say that Medium Intensity (currently allowing three lots/acre) would be retained as a category without addressing density.  Much of his presentation seemed to recommend “clustering” to develop smaller, more compact lots in order to preserve “more overall untouched open space” within any given development.

It would allow the same number of lots on any given tract, clustered together to leave more of the acreage as green space.  Mabry cited a study by the Environmental Protection Agency concluding that clustering, with certain incentives (natural stormwater treatment, construction of swales, narrower streets…) can drive down construction costs.  Whether or not those altruistic developers would pass along those savings to the end customers is anyone’s guess.

 

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