PORT ALLEN — The West Baton Rouge Parish Council voted Thursday to adopt the parish’s first comprehensive master development plan in 40 years.
The 8-0 vote gives the parish a blueprint of suggested growth and design plans to which it can refer during the next 20 years.
Parish Planning Director Kevin Durbin said the council’s approval now puts years of effort from numerous people and entities into motion.
“This has been years in the making,” he said. “This is the parish’s first new master plan since the 1960s.”
The plan, referred to as “PlanWEST 2020,” documents future goals for issues such as economic development, land use and housing, natural systems and open space, transportation and mobility, and public facilities and infrastructure.
The plan was developed through efforts by parish government and the parish’s chamber of commerce, along with design and consulting firms as well as a series of public meetings, Durbin said.
“This is our plan, a plan for the people of West Baton Rouge Parish,” Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot said. “It’s a good step forward.”
Durbin said development of the plan was funded through $200,000 in federal and state hurricane assistance funds.
The parish’s Planning Commission already has approved the document, Durbin said.
During Thursday’s meeting, parish Chamber of Commerce Director Kathy Stuart said the chamber’s board of directors also approved the plan.
Councilman Jeff “Petit” Kershaw stressed that the plan is not a binding ordinance, but is a tool to use for reference.
“This is a guide and a vision for what the parish might be in the next 20 years,” he said. “This will not necessarily keep people from doing what they want with their property.”
Berthelot added the parish would review the document each year to gauge progress and address concerns.
Councilman Keith Washington Sr. asked the current and future councils use the plan to “take one step at a time over the next 20 years.”
Other items getting attention from the council included:
PROPERTY VALUE: Parish Assessor Barney Altazan reported on this year’s assessment of property value parishwide.
Altazan said the parish totaled just under $353 million in property tax assessments for the year, an increase of $25.5 million from the previous assessment year.
Altazan added that with the increase, the value of an individual parish property tax mill rose from $327,000 to $352,000.