Ascension Parish Council explores growth management as population rises

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Kendig Keast representatives give a presentation on managing growth to the Ascension Parish Council during the Aug. 19 meeting.

Consultants from Kendig Keast gave a presentation on growth management to the Ascension Parish Council during the Aug. 19 virtual meeting.

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment introduced Bret Keast, the project principal-in-charge and the CEO and owner, and Tareq Wafaie, the project manager, during his report.

According to the company's website, Kendig Keast Collaborative is an implementation-based, urban planning consultancy. The firm is based in Sugarland, Texas.

The goal of the collaboration is to present an action plan based on best practices from the region, state, and country. The second phase includes drafting regulations that can be put into action.

Responsible growth protects community assets, directs growth to appropriate areas, and brings economic benefit, according to a slide in the presentation.

As evidenced by the recent release of 2020 Census data, Ascension Parish has experienced some of the fastest growth in the state over recent years. The parish reported a total of 126,500 residents in 2020, which was an 18 percent increase since 2010. A total of 19,285 residents were added to the parish count in the decade.

The upward spike continued from previous years. The total has nearly doubled since 2000 when the parish's count was 76,627.

As pointed out in the presentation, much of the growth has been in the northern area of the parish bordering East Baton Rouge Parish in the Dutchtown and Prairieville areas.

According to estimates presented, the area could attract another 52,000 residents in the next two decades. To accommodate housing needs for the influx of people, 22,500 housing units and some 7,500 acres of land would be needed. The consultants said that area would be three times the size of Donaldsonville and 21 times the size of Keystone of Galvez subdivision.

In another matter, the council approved the virtual meeting policy which set guidelines for meetings being conducted through Zoom.

Following the surge in COVID-19 in recent weeks, the council went back to meeting virtually.

Chair Teri Casso said the council wanted to be "very cautious."