master plan

If, perhaps, you’re looking for something to become both fascinated and infuriated by – look no further than recently resurrected Master Plan titled, “Envision Livingston.”

Let’s begin with the “fascinating” part. The Envision Livingston booklet is a 114-page document adopted by the Parish Council in 2013. Due to squabbling between the eastern and western parts of the parish – which may rear its ugly head this time around, again – the document was buried, never to be seen again!

And yet, here it is ... and it’s chock full of amazing information that should never have been put under lock and key.

While the analysis came in 2013, and the numbers will be changed to reflect more current trends, did you know that over half of the parish (55 percent, 384 square miles) is simply vacant? Another 27 percent, or 194 square miles, are used for agriculture. And 111 square miles, a number which has grown since 2013, are used for single-family residences – accounting for 16 percent.

The remaining 2 percent - yes, 2 percent – was divided between parks, multifamily residential, industrial, commercial, and civic or institutional land usage.

Interestingly enough, that means that less than half of the land in Livingston Parish would be subject to land-use restrictions from zoning, should it be enacted.

From there, the document contains all sorts of interesting tidbits, including a predictor of growth areas (although, that isn’t that difficult to predict), charts on how Livingston Parish is one of the lowest taxed areas (per capita) in the capital region, and even has a relatively accurate prediction of population, which it showed at 140,000 near 2015.

It didn’t predict the flood, though, which set some of those numbers back.

So why is it infuriating? Because money was spent on those reports; dollars had to be used for that data to be collected. Even if all the work was done pro bono (See: for free, and it wasn’t) that still doesn’t excuse the fact that the document was never taken past debate. And it doesn’t stop there. All of that data was useful and helpful toward responsible growth in Livingston Parish.

But the document died over a squabble.

There even existed a comment, courtesy of the Livingston Economic Development Council, that suggested a survey of potential businesses interested in the area were wary of the lack of sewer and zoning.

But the document died over a squabble.

There’s an entire section of the study that discusses the lack of predictable land use and, even if zoning isn’t considered, land-use ordinances should be enacted to keep growth more predictable and make it easier to control.

If ever there was an irresponsible use of tax dollars, Envision Livingston was it. Why is this worse than, say, a politician embezzling money? Because at least there’s a clear-cut reason to be upset with that particular politician. In this instance, money was spent on a half-cocked effort to try and bring responsible growth to the parish.

But, in the beginning, the document died over a squabble. Let’s hope it can be carried a little further this time.

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