Zoning board approves temporary worker village in Carlyss - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Calcasieu zoning board grants exception for Moss Lake Village

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CARLYSS, LA (KPLC) -

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Planning and Zoning Board on Tuesday approved a zoning exception for the controversial temporary workforce housing development in Carlyss.

The board voted 9-1 to rezone 100 acres of land at Southland Executive Airport. The vote is final and does not have to go in front of the full police jury.

First Flight Holdings, LLC will lease the land from West Calcasieu Airport Managing Board and plans to house up to 2,500 workers.

You can read the zoning exception request at http://bit.ly/1ipha0F and the lease agreement at http://bit.ly/1iplUDE/

The workers are expected to come to Southwest Louisiana for multi-billion dollar construction projects - like the expansion at Cameron LNG.

While one of the major concerns is traffic, company First Flight Holdings told the zoning board its operation will bus employees to and from work sites.

"At our facility we will have 2,500 parking spaces for the residents that will live there - that will turn into 30 buses," explained Rhett Phillips, with First Flight Holdings.

Another big concern is an influx in crime. In addition to background checks for violent and sex offenders, Phillips said there will be 24-hour surveillance and private security officers on the property.

"Security will ramp up with the number of people. So if it starts at 250 a Sheriff's deputy and a few private security officers and we will ramp that ratio up as we get to our peak," Phillips said.

Phillips also said that alcohol will not be permitted in the common areas (inside or outside) of the property.

The meeting was well attended by concerned residents and many from Carlyss said they were not reassured and voiced their opposition.

"If this were your community and this was in your backyard - how would you feel about it? I think that is what everybody is trying to say. We are not opposed to economic development - we just love where we live and we would like to keep it a family environment," said one Carlyss resident.

"We would like the board to hear us. When you have a community with this much opposition to a proposal ... we would hope the board would side with the residents," said Allen Joyner, Carlyss resident.

While they held back their emotions, the residents mostly stuck to the facts. Barry Badon told the board the project doesn't have FAA approval to develop on airport property.

"They don't have approval. That is in violation of your ordinance. It was passed in 2012 - by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, but recommended by you to the jury," said Badon, a Carlyss resident.

Assistant Calcasieu Planning Director Jennifer Wallace explained because this item is a zoning exception, FAA approval isn't needed.

"While FAA approval is required for a variance, this is not a variance request," Wallace said.

Most on the board said they feel this is a solution to the housing dilemma.

"Where are we going to put these people? You think Lake Charles was happy to have all these people when they built Cities Service? I bet they were scared to death too. But hey, the people came in and they built it and it's still here today and everybody isn't complaining about it any more. That's all I have to say," said Gerry Navarre, a zoning board member.

With the possibility of another worker village in Vinton bringing in an additional 4,000 temporary workers, Carlyss residents urged the zoning board to reconsider.

"If you guys think that 6,500 workers are going to get around a campfire at night and sing Kumbaya ... you're not being realistic," said one Carlyss resident.

"The culture of the construction worker has changed drastically since the 1980s, 70s and 60s. And it will be different this time," said one Carlyss resident.

The agreement is also contingent upon the following stipulations:

• That the development adhere to a site plan on file with the zoning board.

• That a drainage impact analysis be submitted and approved.

• That the exception is for Southland Executive Airport and First Flight Holdings, LLC. and is non-transferable.

• That facility be designed to ensure that all traffic related to the temporary workforce housing facility will enter and exit via La.27 South, subject to DOTD approval.

• That a landscape plan be submitted that depicts and is comparable to what is included in the site plan and the renderings, including landscaping at all access points.

• That a natural buffer is maintained where possible.

• That all exterior lighting must be oriented inward toward the development or structures to minimize intrusion onto surrounding properties.

• That Firs Flight Holdings, LLC. shall not enter into contracts with any clients for the housing of workers that perform work at any location to the north of the workforce housing facility.

• That the Division of Planning and Development be provided with contract abstracts with customers within 30 days of execution

• That the Division of Planning and Development be provided with the "code of conduct" to be signed by each resident

• That the pods must be removed within six months of First Flight Holdings, LLC. end date with its customers.

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