Council approves citywide rezoning plan

The Lake Charles City Council unanimously voted this week to approve a citywide rezoning plan.

With the passage of the plan, many areas throughout Lake Charles have been “upzoned,” with previously residential areas being changed to neighborhood or mixed-use zones. These changes allow for more dwellings units per acre — 10 for neighborhood and 12 for mixed-use — and the institution of non-residential structures with major and minor conditional use permits.

This is the first citywide rezoning to take place in 30 years. Since September 2018, the city has worked with Kendig Keast Collaborative to conduct a comprehensive study to determine which parts of the city would benefit from updated zoning.

The vote to approve the rezoning plan was deferred until Wednesday night to allow the community more time to research and provide input on the plan.

Council Vice-President Craig Marks, District F, said the council attempted to host a community meeting on Tuesday but icy weather conditions prevented it from taking place. He, as well as Luvertha August, District B, Rodney Geyen, Ddistrict C, and the Lake Charles NAACP, posted on social media that the final vote would take place on Wednesday.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said deferring the rezoning vote to garner community opinions was a sound decision.

“I think it’s really appropriate that we had a lot of citizen feedback. … Something of this nature, especially a sweeping rezoning like this, people deserve to know what’s going on, and they deserve to have their questions answered.”

He considers the rezoning an appropriate step to help the city keep up with Lake Charles’ decades-long evolution.

“It’s been 30 years since the city has considered something of this magnitude, and in 30 years this city has changed a lot.”

Multiple residents and local leaders came to the meeting to express a final push of support for the rezoning, especially a stretch of area along the Interstate 10 corridor from Boston to Albert street and back towards Pine Street.

Delana Labbe Carter, whose family has lived near the I-10 corridor for generations, said she was in favor of the mixed-use upzoning to bring businesses that stimulate economic growth in the area.

John Batiste echoed this and expressed his gratitude for the city’s effort to address concerns and questions many Lake Charles residents had regarding the citywide rezoning.

He said his neighborhood along the I-10 corridor will welcome “any ray of light” that brings development, jobs and economic health, and asked the city to ensure the conditional use permits are approved for businesses that will benefit the area.

“I would just urge the city to please consider allowing business to come in that would service the neighborhood specifically for jobs, as opposed to some big structure where one or two people are working there. I am very concerned about making sure the people of the neighborhood have somewhere to work.”

The rezoning of this area will yield economic results, Hunter said. He said that despite the economic development districts along the I-10 corridor and Enterprise Boulevard being instituted at the same time several years ago, Enterprise has “produced more fruit” because of its zoning classification.

“I’ve had multiple developers tell me since I’ve been mayor that one of the things that hinders more economic development along I-10 is the current zoning.”

The approved rezoning plan can be viewed at  www.cityoflakecharles.com/zoning.

 

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