LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — The comprehensive plan endorsed by the City-Parish Council last week is a list of some 400 separate strategies to address Lafayette's growth in the coming decades. But one clear theme emerges: Sprawl is the enemy.
The plan, which has been in the works for two years, is a guidebook for new policies, regulations and initiatives on a wide range of issues, from public safety and parks to economic development and education.
But the issues likely to be the most difficult and controversial in the coming years are those touching on residential and commercial development.
Councilman Don Bertrand tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1rLSbgU ) people are starting to realize that this is a real issue.
Consultants for city-parish government estimate there will be 90,000 more residents in Lafayette Parish by 2030, pushing the population up to 310,000.
"They say 90,000 in 20 years. I think we could see that in 10 years," Bertrand said.
The plan, in one sense, is an attempt to figure out where to put all those people.
"It's going to be an educational process for everybody," Bertrand said. "We are going to have to develop a city that is more populated."
Even if no efforts were made to encourage more urban development, Lafayette Parish would eventually face the limits imposed by simple geography.
As the plan points out, Lafayette is an unusually small parish, and, at some point, there will be no more available land not subject to regular flooding.
Bertrand said encouraging growth within the city limits also has the practical effect of saving money because "it's cheaper to build in areas where there is already infrastructure."
The comprehensive plan does not call for a moratorium on rural development but rather suggests strategies that would make it easier to develop within existing population centers.
A critical piece is an overhaul of development regulations that could come before the council by the end of the year.
The new codes, if approved, would remove hurdles for the types of developments the City-Parish Chief Development Officer Kevin Blanchard said are needed to meet a growing desire for a diversity of urban living options. Those options include mixed-used developments of retail, residential and offices space and high-density multi-family developments.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com