Parish gets $100,000 plan grant

September 17, 2008 at 11:58 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

St. Charles Parish will receive $100,000 from an organization that provides planning models and technical assistance to help communities with their transportation and infrastructure needs.

The Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) picked St. Charles, as well as four other communities, from a pool of more than 20 applicants throughout the state. The chosen communities, which also include Ascension Parish, Bastrop, Lafayette Consolidated Parish and Jena, will share in $380,000 of seed funding grants. St. Charles and Ascension Parishes will each receive $100,000 in seed funding, while Bastrop and Lafayette Consolidated Parish will each receive $50,000.

Jena will receive $80,000.

Each community was required to provide a dollar-for-dollar match for the funds that they requested.

The parish has yet to formulate a new growth planning model, but will use input from the community when developing the plan. The new plan could help the parish to conserve open space and farmland, develop walkable neighborhoods and create more housing opportunities.

“With the growth we continue to witness in our parish, we are always seeking solutions to managing new development in a way that keeps the integrity of our community intact,” Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said. “We'll take what we learn through this planning process and apply it to future scenarios.”

CPEX announced the launch of the 2008 Louisiana Community Planning Program earlier in the summer and asked community leaders to submit applications requesting assistance with the development of comprehensive master plans, infill/redevelopment plans, neighborhood plans and other types of community plans.

The program encourages the creation of housing opportunities, the preservation of open space and farmland, the development of walkable neighborhoods and  collaboration between the parish and the community. The plan resulted from 18 months of work by some of the top planners in Louisiana and the input of over 27,000 Louisiana residents.

The more than 100 items detailed in the plan urge communities to grow smarter and think regionally.

CPEX is a non-profit organization based in Baton Rouge that grew from a 1998-initiative called Plan Baton Rouge. That project began as a program to oversee and implement a plan for redeveloping the city's downtown area. In 2005, Plan Baton Rouge completed a neighborhood plan for Old South Baton Rouge, a historic community located between downtown and LSU. The plan focused on revitalizing existing housing and businesses and integrating mixed-income housing and multi-use development into the area.

CPEX continues to oversee the implementation of both efforts.

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, CPEX was called upon to play a larger role in planning efforts throughout the state. In fact, Plan Baton Rouge became the model to address developmental issues that faced local governments in south Louisiana after those natural disasters.

Recently, Sen. Mary Landrieu assisted CPEX in securing a grant from the EPA Smart Growth Program, which is dedicated to helping the state's communities create and implement master plans for transportation, infrastructure, equitable housing and environmental issues.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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