Buddy Ellis Road

Buddy Ellis Road

As new developments sprout up in Livingston Parish, drainage continues to get worse.

This week, the Livingston Parish Council will look to address that long-standing issue.

A public hearing will be held at the next council meeting regarding the proposed “Impact Fee Ordinance,” which would require the overseers of newly subdivided lots, new commercial development, and newly constructed subdivisions to pay a one-time fee to be used for off-site drainage.

Currently, there are no impact fees for new development in the parish, which continues to grow at a rapid pace. In the 2020 Census, Livingston Parish was the state’s seventh-fastest growing parish, increasing in population by more than 14,000 — or just over 11 percent.

In a recent interview, Shane Mack, of District 9, said the impact fees are meant to “mitigate the negative impact to the off-site drainage system caused by new development.” Currently, developers are only responsible for addressing drainage within the development, though Mack said effects are felt “well outside of it.”

The impact fee would not apply to anyone outside the development, just the overseer of the area being developed.

“We all know development impacts the drainage system,” Mack said. “So this drainage impact fee is to go to improving off-site drainage to minimize the impact caused by the development.”

Currently, there are three funded gravity drainage districts in Livingston Parish: Gravity Drainage District 1, which is funded by a property tax and sales tax and covers Gray’s Creek and parts of the Amite River Watershed; Gravity Drainage District 2, which is funded by a one-cent sales tax from the Watson area; and Gravity Drainage District 5, which collects a one-cent sales tax in Walker and areas north.

Earlier this year, the parish council dissolved gravity drainage districts 6 and 7 — which were unfunded — and formed Gravity Drainage District 8, which included all areas of unfunded drainage in the parish.

The proposed ordinance would supplement existing funding for gravity drainage districts 1, 2, and 5 while providing much-needed resources for Gravity Drainage District 8, which remains unfunded, Mack said.

“This will allow Gravity Drainage District 8 to not be just ink on paper,” Mack said, quoting Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse from a recent council meeting. “We’ll be a functional organization dedicated to ensuring the drainage in our area is well designed and maintained and works.”

Mack said he has heard numerous complaints from citizens regarding drainage since he took office — complaints that have only grown louder alongside new developments. Mack said he is “not against development” but said that he is hoping to “promote good growth.”

“This is a way of moving forward with development but also having funds for drainage improvement to fix the drainage, so it works and people aren’t so upset because the developments impact them negatively,” Mack said.

The impact fee ordinance has been in the works for months, with council members hammering out details over the last several committee meetings. Mack said he researched similar moves made in Ascension and St. Tammany parishes, which have also introduced impact fees in recent years.

“This is not something that other parishes aren’t looking into or already implemented,” Mack said. “Many questions were asked over the last three to four months. We worked hard to respond to those questions and answer those questions and adjust and modify the ordinance to address those concerns.”

The proposed impact fees will be divided into six categories: subdivisions without improvements, minor subdivisions, subdivisions with improvements, mobile home parks, commercial developments, and multifamily developments.

The proposed fee schedule is as follows:

-- Subdivisions without improvements: $1,114 per lot

-- Minor subdivisions: $1,114 per lot

-- Subdivisions with improvements: $1,114 per lot

-- Mobile home parks: $622 per pad

-- Commercial developments: $720 per lot per 1,000 square feet

-- Multifamily developments: $441 per unit

Exemptions can be requested through an application process to the Planning Director.

“Poor drainage in Livingston Parish has to be addressed,” Mack said. “In the long run, if the council doesn’t take action to address the negative impact caused on the drainage system due to development and we continue to develop as is, one day we’re going to have a parish where drainage systems don’t work and it’ll be almost impossible to fix.”

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