Subdivision halt continues

Tangipahoa Parish Council members view Dana Brown and Associates’ suggestions for how future subdivisions could look to prevent further flooding problems.

One 60-day halt on building new subdivisions was not long enough.

The Tangipahoa Parish Council on July 13 put the brakes on subdivision development to give its Development Regulations Committee a chance to complete a flood study. During that 60-day moratorium period, the Planning Commission could not approve any new residential subdivisions with over eight lots and special use residential/ commercial developments south of I-12 in Tangipahoa Parish.

Nine council members on Monday, minus Trent Forrest who was absent, decided to call for extending the moratorium. They expect to vote on the extension at their Sept. 28 meeting.

A couple of subdivision developments may be affected by the extension, one of which is proposed for discussion at the council’s October meeting. The other development proposal is not expected to be heard until at least November, said Bridget Bailey, director of community development.

Vice Chairman David Vial and Chairman Carlo Bruno voiced their support of continuing the moratorium, despite not voting for it initially.

“I didn’t vote for this last time, but I think we’re at the point where we have something in place that we have a lot of people on the same page, and I think we’re all headed in the right direction,” Vial said. “I think it’s time to go ahead and do this. I think we can go ahead and put a wrap on this thing in some reasonable amount of time.”

Bruno attributed his support to the large effort put in over the past 60 days and good input he has heard so far.

“I think the committee worked real hard, and I think the general public as a whole, based on the meeting we had the other night, really liked the direction we’re going,” he said.

He added that now that parish officials know where they is going, they just have to get there.

Findings

The flood study consultant, Dana Brown and Associates, presented findings to the Development Regulations Committee on Sept. 2. Community members filled the meeting room and engaged in conversation about the findings with Brown, council members and administrators present.

According to her findings, Dana Brown found several ways the parish could adopt new policies or incentivize certain methods to help the parish meet its goals of reducing future issues with flooding.

She suggested several changes to current development codes:

n Requiring a site clearing permit where people cannot clear land without a permit and a plan for the land being cleared;

n Limiting a property’s clearance to only what is needed;

n Not allowing property setbacks to be filled in;

n Incentivizing developers to use conservation and cluster developments;

n Incentivizing developers to turn detention/ retention ponds into amenities; and

n Requiring pier construction when building on expansive soils and for areas subject to flooding.

Brown encouraged parish officials to urge developers to keep some rural aspects to the rural area through cluster developments or conservation subdivisions. She also encouraged them to require developers to manage storm water by mimicking nature with the help of green infrastructure, which makes a place for water in urban environment and slows and stores storm water close to where it lands.

Parish officials will need to decide which, if any, of Brown’s recommendations they incorporate into their new floodway plan to prevent flooding problems from worsening in some critical regions of the parish.

One of their top priorities is the fill ordinance.

Councilwoman Brigette Delatte Hyde said they want Brown’s opinion on what the “magic number” for maximum fill is.

“Our ordinances that control regulations are a working document, [we’re] always looking at ways to improve it,” Hyde said. “That’s why we wanted to make the investment looking at a consultant who gives us answers.”

A small committee has started to prioritize recommendations. Once decided, they will ask Brown to help them with more specific information and get her advice on the best way to word guidelines.

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