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Thursday, October 02, 2014
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Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. (American Press Archives)<br>

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. (American Press Archives)

Lake Charles begins steps to tweak zoning laws

Last Modified: Saturday, February 02, 2013 9:48 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Officials in Mayor Randy Roach’s administration are in the preliminary phases of creating a master plan for Lake Charles.

The idea was discussed before Hurricane Rita. But after the storm, which hit in 2005, city officials and residents trained their attention on reshaping downtown and the lakefront, along with improving recreation and infrastructure.

Design plans and zoning laws were added to the city code, but many of those efforts were focused on small sections of the city.

“I think we learned from that experience with the Smart Code and new urban standards for planning,” Roach said. “Now we probably need to upgrade and update the zoning code for development all over the city.”

Roach wants to see a master plan that can be “overlaid” with the city’s current zoning code.

The administration thinks a new and long-term approach to growth will make it easier to ensure certain amenities are developed in the city like pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

Roach said the finished product will include public comments.

Russ Adams, director of the city’s planning and development office, said a number of “elements” will be used to direct the way a plan is compiled.

“For each of the elements, there will be a vision, goals, policies and actions,” he said.

Those elements: economy; land use and future land use; transportation (automobile, rail, air, alternate — i.e., walking and bicycles); environment and beautification; public facilities, infrastructure and services; housing; recreation, parks and open space; education and needs of youth; arts, culture and heritage; special districts (downtown); neighborhood planning.

The process is expected to be organic and continue to evolve even after a master plan is completed.

At the moment, Adams’ staff is completing an outline that will be used to construct the overall plan.

“It is being shared with other departments in the city. Then it will be shared with the planning and zoning commission and City Council,” he said. “Then we’ll have public meetings to get input.”

Adams supports the city’s attempt to build a master plan.

“It is very important to have for long-range planning. Especially since the city wants to attract new companies,” he said. “They want to see what cities have planned in making their decision to stay for the long haul.”

Roach said community involvement is necessary.

“You can’t plan and develop a plan that has any real substance until you get the community involved,” he said.

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