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Lafayette councils to discuss changes to Unified Development Code

Council meetings start at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
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Posted at 4:27 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 21:30:35-05

LAFAYETTE, La. — The Lafayette City and Parish Councils will meet for their regular meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 2 where they will discuss changes to the Unified Development Code.

Both the city and parish councils will vote on a joint introductory ordinance, JO-111-2020, that will modify Chapter 89 of the Lafayette City-Parish Code of Ordinances, also known as the Unified Development Code (UDC) and provide for the new Lafayette Development Code (LDC).

According to the ordinance by the Lafayette Consolidated Government, the UDC has played an essential role in the implementation of PlanLafayette, which is the master plan for Lafayette and the unincorporated parts of the parish.

On Nov. 9, the Lafayette City and Parish Planning Commissions and the Lafayette City Zoning Commission voted to recommend the new Lafayette Development Code be adopted by both councils, which they said would allow LCG to achieve the goals of PlanLafayette to further the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of both the city and parish.

During LCG’s weekly press briefing on Tuesday, LCG Director of Development and Planning Mary Sliman said that the repeal of the UDC and replacing it with the LDC was an initiative of Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory and thanked him for working with her department on the draft of the new code.

“The LDC is a more efficient, business-friendly framework for development throughout Lafayette Parish,” said Sliman.

She says the year-long process began in January and involved the UDC Replacement Committee, which had 39 members representing all aspects of the parish and included engineers, contractors, homebuilders, architects, realtors, developers, property owners and people from the general public.

Sliman said the committee’s top goal was to identify specific UDC regulations that negatively impacted development and to help her staff to create measures that are more pro-development while still implementing the PlanLafayette master plan.

Sliman said the committee received more than 130 comments on areas of the UDC that needed to be looked at or changed.

She said that LCG staff reviewed the comments and proposed recommendations to the committee to draft the LDC, which also included feedback from stakeholders.

Sliman said that one of the most significant changes that her staff heard from the committee was the ability to make smart decisions when there are site constraints for specific properties.

This administrative privilege ability has been added to certain sections of the code to empower LCG to make decisions in a more timely and efficient manner, she said.

Other changes to the code include parking lot landscaping changes, which will give developers the ability to use more creativity in their parking lot design.

There will also be green infrastructure changes that include perforated curves in parking lots and the islands to allow water to run through into the natural vegetation.

Mature tree preservation will also be included for parking lots to encourage developers to keep mature trees instead of cutting them down and replacing them with new, smaller trees.

Buffer requirements will be changed when dealing with undeveloped land, which mainly impacts properties in the unincorporated parish. Buffer screening rules have changed to allow for mature vegetation that already exists.

Gravel parking will be allowed within the City of Lafayette under certain conditions.

There are also changes to private street requirements at the request of homebuilders in the area.

Sign regulations will now allow pylon signs and some permit requirements have also been changed that will make it easier for businesses to change their existing signage after storm damage.

Open space requirements have been changed and have been decreased for residential developments and some commercial developments in commercial heavy zoning districts. For residential developers, the allocation process involves a straight percentage requirement.

For commercial developers, Sliman says she anticipates that the percentage requirement will decrease from 25% to 20% that should make redevelopment easier.

The Lafayette Parish Council holds it regular meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, followed by the Lafayette City Council meeting at 6 p.m. at Lafayette City-Parish Hall.

You can watch Tuesday's full LCG press briefing below:

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