Last of St. John land use meetings draws crowd

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2012



LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish concluded a series of community meetings Tuesday in LaPlace related the parish’s comprehensive land use plan, and the focus now shifts to addressing comments offered up by residents.

About 50 people were in attendance at the St. John Community Center taking part in a lively discussion regarding the future of the parish. The meeting was similar to three previous meetings held in Reserve, Edgard and Garyville.

“There was great interest at all of the meetings,” said Paige Braud, communications director for St. John Parish. “Residents were very involved and put great thought into their comments.”

Parish President Natalie Robottom said the plan, once it is complete, will guide the parish’s development into the next 20 years. She said the next step in the process is incorporating the comments and concerns from residents that were compiled in the meetings.

Topics of discussion included transportation, traffic, housing, blight, drainage, land use and storm protection.

“When you are looking 20 to 25 years down the line, your needs change, people change,” Robottom said. “We want to make sure we are ready to address those changes.”

Tim Jackson, senior research associate for UNO, which is working with the parish to develop the comprehensive plan, said the community meetings represent the fourth phase of the parish’s plan. He said the other phases mostly involved research on population demographics and how land is used throughout the parish. The plan is being financed by a $315,000 grant from the Louisiana Office of Community Development. The parish is also using a more than $174,000 grant from the state’s “resiliency program,” to help fund the portion of the program tied to how the region bounces back from a disaster or other event.

Braud said the parish is also considering reaching out to area high schools to gather further input from those men and women who will likely take up future residence in the parish.

“They will be the ones who will be here starting families in the next decade when this plan is put in place,” Braud said.

“They may also have some ideas that we don’t see.”

More information about the land use plan, including links to previous phases, can be found at the parish’s website