A member of the Livingston Parish Council uttered a seemingly taboo word that could set the wheels in motion for a long overdue proposal for some areas of the parish.
District 7 Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse urged the council to revisit the discussion of zoning, a proposition that has historically drawn widespread opposition.
Most of it originates from the eastern and southern end of the parish – mostly rural areas – but the discussion also has received pushback in more densely populated areas such as Watson.
Arguments and protests over the past three years, however, support the notion that a discussion of zoning is long overdue. In the three years since the current council took office, it has fielded numerous protests over developments that residents did not want in their area.
The most recent case involved the Starwood Knoll multifamily development, adjacent to the Woodland Crossing Subdivision. The Parish Council sent the proposal back to the Planning Commission over concerns on drainage and traffic.
Developer Garry Lewis complied with the specifications on sewer, drainage and traffic concerns, which left the Planning Commission no choice other than to approve it.
Legally, the Parish Council had no other option than to give it the go-ahead – all due to a lack of zoning.
Other protests from residents have included the Southern Aggregates gravel pit near the Oak Hills subdivision in Watson in spring 2016, as well as a shooting range in a residential area in Springfield in early 2017.
The developer of the shooting range backed off his plan, but Southern Aggregates moved forward on the pit.
The projects under protest had the legal right to build, largely because the lack of zoning laws allowed no leeway.
The previous Parish Council adopted a Master Plan in 2013, but the issue has not received much attention over the past three years. Perhaps the latest round of protests has delivered a wakeup call.
Hopefully, the discussion of zoning will resurface and perhaps put plans in action.
Zoning has been a taboo subject for too long.