Calcasieu Parish works toward Unified Development Code

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - As Calcasieu Parish looks ahead for future growth it's time to update and streamline the development codes. The last time this was done was some 30 years ago. Parish leaders say it's time for an update considering a lot has changed in terms of population in the unincorporated areas.

Helping the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the Planning and Zoning Board with their Unified Development Code (UDC) is a panel of 14 citizens - consisting of realtors, home builders and business men and women. Their goal is to go over the document with a fine tooth comb. Tasked with looking over everything from regulations concerning zoning, commercial and private development as well as drainage.

Monday night's discussion included concerns that some of the regulations and codes were too strict. Calcasieu Parish Administrator Bryan Beam, who took over last year, said this was one of the first major projects he wanted to accomplish as Calcasieu continues to grow.

"One of the things that I was very open about was the need to have a more comprehensive planning process, where a development that occurs is done in a way and thinks about all of the ramifications. That's because in cities, parishes and counties that are successful you see attention to those things because it's about safety, it's about public health, it's about economic development. It's also growing in a good way that balances community interest and private land owners and that's really what we are seeking here. It's a good healthy discussion," said Beam.

"We really want this document to be a one stop shop related to development so when the developer comes to Calcasieu Parish or if a citizen wants to build a subdivision - they can just go to this one book and see exactly what all of the regulations are that they will have to follow," said Jennifer Wallace, Calcasieu Assistant Director of Advanced Planning/Grants.

A lot of the information was collected during the Vision Calcasieu meetings. If all goes as planned the panel will finish up their work by the end of this summer, at which point a revised draft taking into consideration their input will be sent to the Planning and Zoning Board and Policy Jury. Parish officials hope the revised version will be adopted by the end of this year.

The meetings are open to the public to give feedback and suggestions. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday June 27th at 5:30 p.m. in Prien Lake Park's Harbor's Edge Pavilion Room.

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