Ama residents get say in land use
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2008
By ROBIN SHANNON
AMA – Limitations on zoning for mobile homes, a desire for affordable newer housing, and an emphasis on neighborhood commercial sites, are just a few of the recommendations that stem from a recently concluded land use study for the West Bank community of Ama in St. Charles Parish.
The 39-page first draft, which is available for review at the parish’s website, www.stcharlesgov.net, and at the west regional and Hahnville branch libraries, was the topic of discussion at a June 11 town hall meeting sponsored by Councilmen Shelley Tastet and Terry Authement. The meeting was held at the Ama American Legion Hall, located at 10853 River Rd.
“We want the residents of Ama to have their say on the study before it is brought before the council for approval,” said Authement, division B councilman-at-large. “This is an issue we inherited, and we don’t want to see it get put on the backburner.”
Tastet, whose district includes the Ama area, said he is pleased with the results of the study, because it opens up some more property for new development, but still reflects the “country lifestyle” of the residents of the area.
“Ama is a small community with people who are set in their ways,” said Tastet. “They like Ama the way it is, and are not looking for any drastic changes or big new development.”
The top recommendations of the study, which was conducted by Urban Systems Inc. of New Orleans, include rezoning a large percentage of residential property from R1-AM, which allows for mobile homes, to R1-A, which calls for single-family homes and forbids the placement of new trailers. The R1-AM designation would remain in areas of AMA where mobile homes are more common.
St. Charles Planning and Zoning Director Kim Marousek said this recommendation is a result of the uproar from Ama residents who complained that they were unaware of the development of an RV park in their community.
“The residents were concerned that new subdivisions could allow for new mobile homes in the community, and the study looked at how to change that,” Marousek said.
“It calls for appropriate changes that are more in line with the future vision of the community.”
The study also recommended looking into the development of more affordable housing that is not the small lot “cookie cutter” subdivisions that deteriorate quickly. The study said residents were concerned by the limited number of homes available for their children.
On the commercial end, the study concluded that commercial property zoned for office space be rezoned to allow for more neighborhood retail establishments, such as grocery stores and small markets, and recommended tax incentives to encourage development. The study said that the majority of Ama’s 1,285 residents must travel to Boutte or Luling for goods and services.
The study said that Ama’s population has the potential to grow to as much as 5,200, but the area would be hindered by the lack of direct access to US 90 because of wetland issues, and the presence of two railroad lines between the parallel corridors of US 90 and River Road, the major artery that services Ama. The study calls for an in depth traffic analysis of the area. It also said that if landowners allowed for new development, improvements to wastewater treatment facilities and other utilities would be necessary.
Other notable recommendations include the quick completion of a bicycle/pedestrian path atop the Mississippi River levee; improvements and additions to existing recreational facilities near the ADM grain elevator, such as lighting for nighttime use; and more emphasis on code enforcement regarding blighted property and junk in residential areas.
Tastet said the parish will use the results of the town hall meeting to make any necessary changes to the study before presenting it to the planning and zoning commission for approval. Once the commission gives its recommendation, the study would go before the council for adoption.