The City-Parish Council on Tuesday approved new limits on the development of apartment complexes along Louisiana Avenue between Willow Street and Interstate 10.
Apartments already faced some restrictions under special zoning rules approved for Louisiana Avenue in 2005, but those limits would have largely gone away under a city wide overhaul on zoning regulations scheduled to go into effect later this year.
The council voted 6-3 to approve a proposal by Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux to prohibit all standalone apartment complexes in the Louisiana Avenue area, except in areas zoned specifically for multifamily residential.
“It is arguably one of the most valuable corridors in Lafayette today, and we have one opportunity to get it right,” Boudreaux said, arguing large apartment complexes eat up real estate that could be used for better retail offerings and for quality mixed-used developments that combine commercial and residential space.
The councilman also said big apartment complexes tend to attract lower-end retail.
“The housing market drives the retail audience. That’s why we get Dollar General,” he said.
That concern was echoed by Lafayette Planning and Zoning Commission member Lynne Guy.
“We don’t want trash anymore,” she said. “We want better.”
The main concerns raised by council members were in singling out one area of the city to block apartment complexes and in approving a change that could block one developer’s plans for a 288-unit complex on Louisiana Avenue between Alexander Street and I-10.
Kentucky-based LDG Development has the property under contract and has negotiated financing for the $40 million project.
The project could move forward under the old zoning regulations but would now need to be granted a special exception.
City-Parish Attorney Mike Hebert said he does not believe the council faces legal exposure because city-parish government has granted no permits or other approvals for the project.
Voting in favor of the zoning change to limit apartments were Boudreaux, Jay Castille, Kevin Naquin, Brandon Shelvin, Don Bertrand and William Theriot.
Voting against the proposal were Keith Patin, Jared Bellard and Andy Naquin.