LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - While there's urgency to provide housing to the unprecedented growth expected to hit the Lake Area, the City of Lake Charles is seeking help from an outside group.
"We are seeing more of these types of applications come through the planning department. In part because of the development that is planned for the area," said Mayor Randy Roach.
Mayor Roach recommended hiring "The Centers for Planning Excellence." The Baton Rouge non-profit is very familiar with the needs here in Southwest Louisiana. The company assembled a team to help with issues in Lake Charles following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita & Ike. According to Mayor Roach, the city has worked with the consulting group in the past and they are very experienced with this type of work. However, Councilwoman Mary Morris isn't convinced they're the only ones for the job.
"I don't have any problem with why we are doing it and the fact we have to choose a consultant... what I have an issue with is looking at the opportunities for businesses within the City of Lake Charles to do that and be involved in the process," said Morris.
While there was no objection to a request to defer the item, Lake Charles Public Works Director Mister Edwards urged the council to not waste any time in making a decision on how to move forward.
"I know a lot of the council members have had issues lately with some items in their district. This will allow that process to get started. This is not going to say we are going to change anything... but it will give us the ability to get something ahead of this development if it needs to be controlled and or put in other places," said Edwards.
Bottom line, Mayor Roach and others on the council believe they need some help when it comes to managing the influx of development -- both residential and commercial.
"I think we will have a little better confidence that what is being proposed actually fits with the existing development and doesn't disrupt the existing neighborhood or the existing area where it's being proposed without having a set of standards to help make sure it compliments what is already there. it will help the zoning board make recommendations and the council to make a decision. It will help the developers and residents," said Mayor Roach. "We need help in this area. I think we have a good ordinance, but they can look at it and make recommendations on how to make it better."
The Council deferred taking action on the item Wednesday night and will take it back up in two weeks at its regular meeting on April 15. Meanwhile, they'll look to see if there are experienced consultants in this area who are qualified for the job.