Lafayette needs to update its zoning regulations and create a redevelopment authority before visions outlined by PlanLafayette can be realized, according to a draft of the plan released this week.

Lafayette's zoning code hasn't been updated since 1972. Developing a "unified development code" would consolidate those regulations and streamline operations when implementing the city's plans for the future, which call for significant redevelopment in the city's neighborhoods and arterial roadways.

Commuters lost over 2.8 million hours and $59 million annually due to traffic congestion in the Lafayette metropolitan area.

A redevelopment authority would give government the authority to capitalize on blighted, vacant or underutilized lands, according to PlanLafayette. Information presented during a Feb. 12 event at Acadiana Center for the Arts cites a similar project in East Baton Rouge that cost $19.7 million but leveraged $200 million in redevelopment in just three years.

During the fourth series of community forums held Feb. 11-12, PlanLafayette revealed a working copy of the comprehensive plan that will carry both the city and parish's burgeoning population through the next few decades with smart growth incentives.

"As expressed by the community," the draft reads, "priorities for future development include:

  • Increased redevelopment and reuse of existing buildings and sites

  • Focused development in existing and emerging centers and corridors

  • Stronger bicycle and pedestrian connections

  • More mixed-use development

  • Improved transit service and access

  • Conserved farmland and open space

  • Lower infrastructure and service costs"

Taxes. The draft recommends revisiting taxation policy to correct instances when services are "substantially higher or lower than the cost of current services being provided," including for things like sewage, utilities, public safety and parks and recreation.

It also recommends tax incentives for rehabilitating "declining property," including historic tax credits and low income housing tax credits to rehabilitate existing buildings into multifamily housing. Also included are recommendations for increasing jet service to Lafayette; that portion's already going before the council in March with City-Parish President Joey Durel's one-cent, one-year tax to build a new airport terminal.

Traffic. PlanLafayette cites a study revealing that "commuters lost over 2.8 million hours and $59 million annually due to traffic congestion in the Lafayette metropolitan area." And although housing in the area is "generally considered affordable," vehicular costs mean Lafayette parishioners spend more than 45 percent of income on housing, with 80 percent spending more than that on housing and transportation costs combined.

The plan looks for creative ways to resolve this issue, like increasing modes of public transportation, working with businesses to create staggered work times and making I-49 upgrades a priority. It also promotes "multi-use centers" built around both residential and commercial spaces that would lessen vehicular traffic by providing nearby amenities.

Downtown Lafayette concept illustration. PlanLafayette
Downtown Lafayette concept illustration. PlanLafayette

Consolidation. As Durel mentioned during his State of the Parish address, fixing consolidation is another focus. Planners are recommending an annexation policy agreement "based on the need and benefit of expanding the tax base and efficient delivery of services and utilities that can be adopted by all political jurisdictions in Lafayette Parish."

Crime. Not only does the plan detail beautification standards, but it addresses ways to incorporate smart design into public safety. Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles incorporate street design and landscaping on private property "to eliminate problem spots for vandalism and other crimes."

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