Parish seeking proposals for land use plan

Aaron E. Looney

Parish government is seeking proposals from professional planning consultants to create a comprehensive master plan for the parish, according to information from the firm tasked by the parish to assist in the process.

The Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) said in a release Wednesday that a formal request for qualifications has been issued and posted on the CPEX Web site as well as the Ascension Parish Government Web site.

The master plan will address numerous issues including the parish’s development code and subdivision regulations, a transportation study, zoning-related issues and subdivision regularion issues, a Mississippi River corridor development study, a Baton Rouge Metropolitan Transportation Plan update, a conceptual land use plan, environmental infrastructure issues, intersection improvements, a planning and development review and recommendations to revise the parish’s development code and subdivision regulations.

As part of the request process, consultants will be asked to develop a plan that reflects the best “smart growth” practices and is consistent with the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan Vision, according to the release. Consultants will also be asked to aid in establishing intergovernmental cooperation among the parish’s three municipalities – Donaldsonville, Gonzales and Sorrento – so that the plan will coordinate with and compliment any other existing city plans or ordinances. The final plan will also include an implementation strategy.

The anticipated project budget is between $250,000 and $300,000, according to CPEX officials.

“A comprehensive plan is really a blueprint for future growth and development in almost all areas, from transportation, land use, and economic development to housing and water management, said Camille Manning-Broome, principal planner for CPEX. “This blueprint will aid Ascension in the creation of a true community vision with policy recommendations and implementation measures that will enhance the quality of life throughout the parish.”

Ascension Parish was one of five Louisiana communities selected by CPEX to share in $380,000 of seed funding grants and technical assistance to aid in Smart Growth planning efforts, Manning-Broome said. Parish government received $100,000 in seed funding and provided a dollar-for-dollar match to support the master plan development project. CPEX is also assisting Ascension Parish with community outreach and education and will help with project management and oversight.

CPEX announced the launch of the 2008 Louisiana Community Planning Program last summer and asked community leaders to submit applications requesting assistance with the development of Comprehensive Master Plans, Infill/Redevelopment Plans, Neighborhood Plans, Downtown Plans, Corridor Plans and other types of community plans. CPEX’s Louisiana Community Planning Program was created in 2006 through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The grant allowed CPEX to assist Tangipahoa and West Feliciana Parishes, as well as provide seed funding for the creation of the Louisiana Land Use Toolkit, a new instrument designed to help communities across the state deal with zoning and development issues.

CPEX’s Louisiana Community Planning Program is committed to encouraging the adoption of “Smart Growth Principles” and the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan. Smart Growth Principles include creation of housing opportunities and choices, the preservation of open space and farmland, the development of walkable neighborhoods and encouragement of community and stakeholder collaboration.

The Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan is the Louisiana Recovery Authority’s long-term plan for recovery and growth in South Louisiana. It is the result of 18 months of work facilitated by some of the top planners in Louisiana and the country, built upon and validated by the participation of more than 27,000 Louisiana residents.