Land-use plan on agenda

Advocate file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Savoy Road, which will run adjacent to Youngsville's sports complex, is set to be widened as part of new growth in the area.
Advocate file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Savoy Road, which will run adjacent to Youngsville's sports complex, is set to be widened as part of new growth in the area.

Youngsville growth prompts proposal

New regulations on development in Youngsville could be in place this spring, an effort to guide growth in the burgeoning community.

The Youngsville City Council is scheduled at Thursday’s meeting to introduce a new land-use plan that calls for buffer space and sometimes fences when new developments conflict with existing ones.

A final vote is expected in April on the plan, which has been under discussion for the past year.

The proposal comes as other communities throughout the parish have beefed up regulations to address the growing number of businesses and subdivisions sprouting up in once-quiet rural areas.

In Youngsville, where the population has grown from 1,195 to 8,105 over the past 20 years, there are few regulations on development.

“There is very little,” Youngsville Councilman Ken Ritter said, who has been an active supporter of the proposed land-use plan.

He said the main regulation now in place is a requirement for a 30-foot buffer for a business built next to an existing home — a one-size-fits-all approach that has served as temporary measure pending a more nuanced plan.

Ritter said that as the city matures, it’s critical to look at “where and how we are growing.”

“If anything, it’s a little bit late,” he said.

The finer points of the land-use plan are being worked out.

In general, the plan requires varying degrees of buffers, planted green spaces and sometimes fences, depending on the area of the city and how a new development conflicts with what’s already there.

For example, a house planned next to an existing house would be considered a minimal conflict compared with a convenience store planned next to a house.

“It just depends on how severe the conflict is,” said Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator.

The land-use plan is an alternative to conventional zoning, which designates certain areas of a city for certain uses — residential, industrial, commercial.

“We had looked at zoning about 10 years ago, and everyone was adamantly opposed to zoning,” Viator said.

In the meantime, he said, the city has felt the stress of new development.

“We are certainly experiencing some of the conflicts and some of headaches,” Viator said.

He said Youngsville’s proposed plan is loosely based on one implemented in 2009 in Carencro.

The Youngsville plan is being developed by the same team that developed Carencro’s plan — University of Louisiana at Lafayette architecture professor Thomas Sammons and architect Lynn Guidry.

The Lafayette City-Parish Council introduced a similar land-use plan last year for rural areas of the parish.

City-Parish Councilman Jay Castille, who pushed for the parish regulations, said the new rules seem to have brought some needed order for developments outside of Lafayette city limits, where there had been few restrictions.

“I’ve had some good feedback from people out in the country,” Castille said. “I think it’s a pretty good fix.”

Most other areas in the parish are also implementing or considering more stringent development regulations.

Broussard is continuing to phase in a zoning program that began in 2009, and Scott is in the process of crafting new regulations on development.

Viator said his next goal after the land-use plan are regulations to control the number of small lots in new subdivisions.

He said there are no plans to ban small lots, but developers should be required to plan a better mix of lot sizes rather than trying to fill a tract with as many homes as possible.

The dense subdivisions put tremendous stress of the city’s roads, sewer systems and other infrastructure, he said.

“They (developers) are maximizing profits at our expense,” Viator said.