East Feliciana Police Jury narrowly approves master plan for development

The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury, on a 4-3 vote, has approved a master plan for future development in the parish, but opponents apparently are not through fighting it.

Becky Toups, an East Feliciana Parish landowner who lives in another parish, said Wednesday she thought the Police Jury did not pay enough attention to residents who appeared at Tuesday’s meeting to speak against the plan.

Jason Stanford, of Norwood, said Wednesday that much of the language in the plan, including the terms “smart growth” and “sustainable growth” came from a world economic summit sponsored by the United Nations.

“This opens up a trail that leads to God knows where,” Stanford told the jury on Tuesday.

Mary Jo Salmon, planning coordinator for the East Feliciana Parish Economic Development District, told the jurors the plan is not a regulatory document but is required by state law because the jury has a planning commission.

She said it is called a “resiliency plan” in keeping with its development with federal disaster recovery grants.

Jurors Larry Beauchamp, Dwight Hill, Jason McCray and Ed Brooks voted to approve the plan, while Louis Kent, Karl Chaney and Chris Hall voted against it. Juror Keith Mills was absent, and jury President Dennis Aucoin has a policy of not voting unless his vote is needed to break a tie.

The planning group submitted the proposal to jurors months ago, but some jurors objected to wording they said sounded as if it required the jury to take certain actions.

Jurors and some landowners also objected to a map that showed some areas of the parish as “preservation areas,” but Beauchamp said Tuesday the map was revised to leave only Avondale Scout Reservation in that type of land use.

“We don’t have to pass ordinances because of this, and it’s not going to change the way we do business,” Beauchamp said.

Stanford replied that the planning website has not been changed to reflect those changes.

Salmon said her group decided not to update the website until the jury approved the plan.

Salmon said the plan promotes good government by suggesting that parish agencies have goals, budgets and outcome studies.

“It addresses many quality-of-life issues to preserve, protect and enhance what we already have,” Salmon said.

Other topics before the jury included:

CULVERT FEES: Jurors voted unanimously to lower the permit fee for driveway culverts from $100 to $50. Because the jury can specify only the size of culverts needed in parish ditches but cannot install them, the $100 fee was too high, Brooks said.

ROAD STUDY: Mark Kessler, an engineer with Forte and Tablada Inc., said his firm’s study of the condition of all parish roads is complete and the company is focusing on applying for a Community Development Block Grant to improve a section of Carruth Road in the Wilson area.