Livingston Economic Development Council director David Bennett

Livingston Economic Development Council director David Bennett

LIVINGSTON - There's a question mark surrounding one of the parish's committees.

At the last parish council meeting, Tracy Girlinghouse (District 7) introduced an ordinance to adopt the 'Envision Livingston' Master Plan - the original plan adopted, by non-binding resolution, by the 2013 parish council. The council approved the introduction unanimously, 8-0 (John Wascom of District 4 was absent) but gave themselves a month to look over the document before discussing adoption.

The plan would be adopted by ordinance, this time around, which would make it binding.

That move came as a surprise to several committee members, who made up the nine-person master plan committee formed in May to work through updating the 2013 Master Plan and update pieces of it to 2019 - and beyond - standards.

Several members of the committee, including chairman Gerald Burns, visited the council at the meeting where they expressed that they had 'been working hard' on what 'the council had told them to do.'

"(The committee) is going to do what you tell us to do," Burns said, "but you've got to give us some direction."

Tuesday night's meeting will be focused on the 'economic corridor' which appears often in the 2013 master plan. That area comprises roughly 1.5 miles north-and-south of I-12 to be the 'welcome sign' for Livingston Parish. The idea was a focus on zoning and infrastructure development in that area to attract businesses and industry to increase the tax base.

And to provide a larger job market, as Livingston Parish faces a roughly 66% exodus every day wherein residents go somewhere else to work.

Livingston Economic Development Council President David Bennett will be the speaker, and will touch base with the committee as to what his group does and how they can help the committee move forward with development of the master plan and the economic corridor.

The master plan committee fell off the rails for the parish council when they were visited by Livingston Parish director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Mark Harrell.

Harrell's office is the main group focused on acquiring grants for the parish.

Harrell told the group that he could find grant funding for the project, however he said that in order to find that revenue he said the group would probably have to 'start over.' Initially, to update the plan the committee was told it would be about half the original price - or $225,000.

To start over on just the base plan, would be $450,000 minimum. Two other items, including parish wide drainage and sewer, were also throw to the committee as a goal. According to Harrell, those items required engineers - which increased costs.

$1.5 million to $2 million in increase, that is - bringing the total for the parish to roughly $450,000 on a 25% grant match.

Committee chair Burns said he spoke to Parish President Layton Ricks and was told the parish didn't have the money. Harrell himself told the committee it could take up to two years for it all to be completed.

That was too long, Girlinghouse thought, and wanted to pursue zoning now and therefore decided to adopt the 2013 master plan and move forward from there.

The master plan committee will meet at 6 p.m., Tuesday, September 10th at the parish council chambers.

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