• 70°

St. John revamping its expansion model

LAPLACE — With some public meetings held and more to come, St. John the Baptist Parish’s Planning and Zoning Department is moving forward on the framework for the long-term development in the parish.

One Parish, One Future: the St. John the Baptist Comprehensive Plan — funded by a Hurricane Ike/Gustav recovery grant — was adopted by the parish’s Planning Commission last fall.

Parish administration is working with the University of New Orleans Division of Planning to complete the fourth phase of the St. John Comprehensive Plan, which officials said will help shape patterns of development and guide the vision for the parish’s future.

A series of public meetings were held for residents to participate in the process and provide their input, and leaders said several common themes emerged from the community’s ideas and concerns.

The themes guided the draft sections of the plan, which were presented at subsequent public meetings last month.

UNO’s Division of Planning Director Wendel Dufour and Senior Research Associate Tim Jackson facilitated the meetings, along with Director of Planning and Zoning Angelic Sutherland Keller and other parish officials.

At the meetings, Dufour and Jackson presented a slideshow of facts and findings, which can be viewed at sjbparish.com/zoning_general.php.

In the Phase IV update, park and recreation improvements are detailed, including the need for considering a regional recreation complex and a need for incorporating more adult and elderly activities. Park upgrades and the expansion of neighborhood playgrounds are also discussed.

Economic development recommendations include a need for considering mixed-use buildings — such as apartments on top of businesses — as an economic engine and to expand industrial development where appropriate, especially on the West Bank.

Zoning revisions, including the condensing of articles, are discussed as part of Phase IV, and Keller said suggestions include relaxing commercial sign regulations and updating mobile home placement guidelines.

More public hearings will be held as the plan moves forward for Planning and Zoning Commission and Council approval, Keller said, adding anyone wanting to provide feedback on the plans can email their comments to planningandzoning@sjbparish.com.

Details for Phases I-III of the Comprehensive Plan can be found on sjbparish.com/zoning_general.php.