Some business developments may need council approvals
By RICHARD BURGESS
September 04, 2012
LAFAYETTE — Commercial developments planned next to residential areas in rural Lafayette Parish could face requirements for buffer space, tree plantings and fences under new regulations to go into effect this month.
The regulations for the unincorporated areas of the parish also require certain types of businesses to obtain approval from the City-Parish Council before moving forward with development.
The regulations will have little effect on residential developments, and all existing businesses are grandfathered in and do not have to comply with the new requirements.
The new regulations should address repeated complaints from rural constituents about the lack of laws to block objectionable developments, said Councilman Jay Castille, who represents the Carencro area.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask us for some protection out there,” said Castille, who co-authored the new law with Councilman Kevin Naquin.
The council unanimously approved the measure Aug. 28.
The so-called “land use” law does not block any particular development but rather requires buffer space, tree plantings in a greenbelt and sometimes a fence when a new development conflicts with what is already in place.
“Intense” land uses, a category that includes dirt pits, wrecker services, junkyards, recycling facilities, pipe yards, prisons and construction debris landfills will have the most requirements.
Any of those businesses taking shape next to a home would need a fence, a buffer space of 1,320 feet surrounding the property plus a 400-foot greenbelt planted with trees.
Most other developments would face lesser requirements that vary depending on a chart that designates a “conflict level” between what is already in place and what is proposed.
Some form of regulation on development has long been needed in the unincorporated areas of the parish, said council Chairman Jared Bellard.
“I think it’s a good thing for someone who built a nice home out there. Anything can pop up right next to you,” he said.
While the new regulations do not prohibit any type of business, the new law does require the City-Parish Council to sign off on plans for a wide range of industrial and commercial developments, including bars, pawnshops, dirt pits, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, RV parks, salvage yards and landfills.
The new law also requires that all property owners within 300 feet of a proposed development be mailed a notice of the council hearing where the development will be considered.
Signs are also required at the site of all proposed developments, advising residents that a development is planned for the property.
Councilman William Theriot, who represents a mostly rural district in southern Lafayette Parish, said he sees the need for the new regulations but hopes the council will avoid a one-size-fits-all approach and consider bending the rules when necessary.
“There are going to be certain situations where they can come to the council and ask for variances,” Theriot said. “We don’t want to harm any businesses.”