A problem that has stalked the Livingston Parish Council resurfaced once more at its Jan. 10 meeting.
Residents in the Walker area, most notably in the Woodland Acres Subdivision, packed the council chambers to protest the plans for Starwood Knoll, a multifamily development adjacent to their area.
Familiar concerns arose, ranging from infrastructure and traffic to overpopulation and a fear of overcrowding in area schools. Residents gave impassioned reasons why they do not want the subdivision, which they fear will hamper the quality of life.
Five members of the Livingston Parish Council concurred with their fears and voted to reject a preliminary plat the Livingston Parish planning Commission approved for the project by Garry Lewis Properties.
Joe Koczrowski, head of the Planning Commission, meanwhile, said the plat submitted by Garry Lewis Properties complied with all regulations on drainage and road issues.
Residents reserve the right to voice their concerns about overcrowding or other issues they fear will threaten changes to their current lifestyle.
The problem, however, stems from the lack of laws that allow a council to determine what should or should not locate in a given area.
The matter once again comes down to zoning – or, in this case, the lack thereof. Zoning laws outline what type of developments a governing body can allow in a subdivision. Some exceptions can be made, but in most cases those waivers come few and far between.
Livingston Parish Council Attorney Chris Moody said after the meeting the council may have been justified in the rejection of the preliminary plat, but a thumbs down the second time around could lead to legal action by the developer of the property.
The residents and council must embrace the notion that enforcement of zoning can come only once voters approve such laws. Until then, almost anything is fair game.
It’s nothing new. Residents protested the opening of a gravel pit on La. 16 in Watson adjacent to their subdivisions, while Springfield residents opposed a gun range in their neighborhood.
The gun range proposal faltered, but the gravel pit proposal did not.
The majority of Livingston Parish residents oppose zoning, and some council remembers are reluctant to bring the proposal before voters.
It’s their choice, but neither should they expect to stop every development they oppose if they do not have zoning laws in place.
Until such time comes, the dilemma will arise again and again.
Two council members have urged a move toward zoning for the parish. It’s long overdue.