Proposed regulations, a year in the making, up for final OK
The city of Scott, which styles itself as the place “where the west begins” in Acadiana, may soon be less of a wild west when it comes to new development.
The City Council is set to consider new regulations next month that, for the first time in Scott, would spell out what can be built where.
The move is in line with a trend seen throughout Lafayette Parish, where, in the past five years, new zoning laws or land-use codes have been implemented in Carencro, Broussard, Youngsville and the rural areas of the parish — all of which had little or no regulation on development.
The proposed regulations in Scott have been under discussion for more than a year and were approved last week by the city’s Planning Commission, which sent them along to the City Council for a final OK.
“It’s to preserve the existing character but also to encourage quality development,” said Pat Logan, who oversees planning for Scott.
Logan said some developments, such as new mobile home parks and dirt pits, would be banned outright, and the city would be sectioned into different areas, each with special regulations on development — rural residential, urban residential, urban commercial, urban center, industrial.
In areas classified as suburban residential, for example, a single-family home would be fine, but an automobile dealership is out.
But there are shades of gray.
A medical clinic or a commercial horse stable could be built in the suburban residential district as long as the administration signed off on its location and development plan, but a proposed vehicle repair shop or gas station in the same area would need approval from the administration, the Planning Commission and the City Council.
The new code would not impact existing businesses.
“It gives a lot of flexibility, and it’s subject to change,” Logan said.
He said the new rules are needed in the growing community, where there are few existing regulations to stop a pipe yard from going up next door to a $300,000 home.
“It’s trying to plan those areas to avoid that,” he said.
The proposed codes in Scott make special provisions for areas along the planned Apollo Road extension, which will run from Cameron Street to the intersection of Dulles Drive and Rue de Belier.
The new road will serve as an alternate route from Interstate 10 into the heart of Lafayette, and Scott officials hope to develop the Apollo extension into an attractive new commercial corridor.
Construction on the first phase is expected to start by the end of the year.
The proposed codes for the Apollo corridor don’t have many restrictions on what types of businesses could be built along the road but do address what those business should look like.
Vinyl siding, corrugated metal and concrete blocks cannot be used as siding, with the codes instead encouraging finished wood, stone, brick and masonry.
All parking is to be behind the businesses, signs with flashing lights are prohibited, and dumpsters and trash cans must be screened from public view.
“They didn’t want Cameron Street built north to south,” Logan said, referring to the main east-to-west traffic corridor marked by unmanaged growth.
Most of the parish already has gone down the regulatory path being considered by Scott.
The city of Lafayette has long had zoning, and most of the surrounding communities have put in place stricter development regulations in recent years as strong growth in a cramped parish finds industrial, commercial and residential developments pushing uncomfortably up against each other.
Broussard began phasing in zoning in 2009, and Youngsville, the fastest-growing city in the parish, adopted a land-use code last year that calls for buffer space and sometimes fences when a new development conflicts with what’s already in place.
“We have so many fine subdivisions and fine homes. They (residents) were concerned about having some protection,” Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator said.
Youngsville’s land-use code is patterned after one adopted in Carencro in 2009, and the Lafayette City-Parish Council in 2012 adopted a similar land-use plan for rural areas of the parish.
All three codes differ from traditional zoning, which specifies what can be built in what area, instead relying on varying degrees of buffer space and sometimes fences and landscaping to dampen the impact of a new development.
“It’s a little tougher to develop in the parish, but you just can’t throw up a waste facility transfer station next to someone’s house,” said City-Parish Councilman Jay Castille, who pushed the land-use plan for the rural areas.
Castille’s reference to a waste transfer station harkens back to an episode that ended with city-parish government paying $3.4 million last year to settle a lawsuit over the council’s decision in 2011 to block a planned garbage transfer station on Sunbeam Lane in north Lafayette.
Waste Facilities of Lafayette had already purchased the property for the facility, obtained permits and started construction at the site when the council shut down the project at the behest of residents complaining of potential odors and noise.
Waste Facilities countered with a lawsuit to recover money already tied up in the project and for future losses.
The transfer station site was outside the Lafayette city limits, and there were no regulations at the time to block it.
Most rural development issues are not so dramatic, but Castille said the new regulations give city-parish government leverage in requiring developers to be more attentive to existing homes and businesses.
“I don’t want to tell you that you can’t develop your property, but let’s compromise with the neighbors,” he said.
The proposed regulations in Scott are set to first come before the City Coun cil on July 10 and are up for a final vote on Aug. 7.
Logan said the regulations, if adopted, would be effective Oct. 1.