Some residents urge St. James Council to adopt land use plan

Half a dozen residents voiced support at a public hearing Wednesday for the St. James Parish government’s proposed land use plan.

“This plan is greatly needed,” said Gerald Falgoust, chairman of the parish’s Coastal Zone Management Committee.

“It gives us another tool to place in our toolbox which will enable our committee to make better decisions,” he said.

Paulina residents Debra and David Laiche and Melanie Lambert, all who have publicly opposed Wolverine Terminals’ attempts to construct a $30 million crude oil terminal and blending operation near their homes, asked the Parish Council to allow the plan to move forward.

The land use plan, which would be used in conjunction with the parish’s comprehensive master plan, divides the parish into categories such as residential/future industrial, residential growth, commercial, commercial/residential mixed, industrial, agriculture, recreation, schools, fire department, water and wetlands.

Two other categories make up Lutcher and Gramercy, two municipalities governed by their own ordinances.

The proposed plan seeks to direct the parish’s growth over the next two decades by encouraging economic development and improving infrastructure, reducing land use conflicts between residents and industry, promoting affordable housing and preserving historic sites, officials have said.

After a second public hearing on the land use plan on April 2 at 6 p.m. in Convent, the Parish Council could vote on the plan later this spring.

The council also introduced an ordinance calling for the $682,000 purchase of 85 acres in south Vacherie for a wetlands sewage treatment plant.

The parish received a grant from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program to build the plant.

A public hearing on the proposed ordinance will be held at 6 p.m. April 2 in Convent.