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(Donna Price / American Press)

(Donna Price / American Press)

Emotions run high as plans move forward for worker housing in Carlyss

Last Modified: Monday, June 16, 2014 11:42 AM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Change is not easy, especially when a town the size of Carlyss could possibly add 2,500 new people to an existing 4,600 mostly lifelong residents.

On Sunday, the American Press portrayed what the “man camp” will actually look like, according to an artist rendering and insight from developers in an effort to help residents understand the pitch.

The development is on the path toward becoming a reality. It only has one more hurdle after receiving approval by the West Calcasieu Airport Managing Board. The airport now must seek approval from the Calcasieu Parish Planning and Zoning Board for the project. The item is scheduled to be voted on at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, at 1015 Pithon St. The zoning board will have to approve a zoning exception for the property, which is zoned for heavy industrial use. The exception will allow the property to be used for residential purposes for the duration of the lease.

It’s commendable the changes to the lease that the company has made to appease the residents of Carlyss. Since negotiations began, several revisions have been agreed upon between First Flight and the airport board after hearing the public’s concerns.

They include making sure the main entrance and exit is on La. 27 to reduce traffic on Johnny Jones Road; requiring criminal background checks on residents if not done by employers; providing housing only to workers for projects south of the airport to minimize traffic on La. 27; using local suppliers, contractors and labor to the extent commercially reasonable; erecting a 9- to 10-foot privacy fence between the airport and neighbors where there is no existing natural barrier; and adopting an alcohol policy for the protection of the public.

George Swift, president/CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, has called the employee village “a safe, wise way to house the temporary construction workers” expected to be en route to Southwest Louisiana for the LNG megaprojects.

The Southwest Louisiana Alliance supports the worker village concept and this particular development at Southland Airport.

“We must demonstrate to the industries which are making major investments and bringing jobs to the area that we can accommodate worker housing,” he said.

No matter where developers put these employee villages people will be upset with a ‘‘not-in-my-backyard’’ stance. However, there should be enough language in the contract to protect residents. The contract needs to convey what the developers promise they will do, holding them accountable. First Flight needs to put pressure on the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury as far as transportation is concerned. They have to make sure that traffic doesn’t bottleneck.

This is a solution that is definitely causing growing pains. And yet, these worker villages are a necessary because there is not enough vacant housing in Southwest Louisiana to handle the coming tide of construction workers that the upcoming industrial expansion will demand.

We’ll have to put our faith in local government agencies to enforce the rules.

Posted By: Randy On: 6/16/2014

Title: Approved

The zoning commission has to approve the man camp.
This is the least painful route to take.

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