OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council unanimously approved Wednesday night a request by parish President Bill Fontenot to hold preliminary meetings with parish engineers in order to discuss possible zoning regulations for unincorporated areas.
Fontenot said after the meeting that St. Landry has no zoning ordinances for any of its rural areas.
Zoning, Fontenot said, could become an issue, as more development, commercial and residential, moves into the parish along the Interstate 49 corridor north of Lafayette Parish.
Fontenot said there also is an indication that La. 13 south of Eunice to the Acadia Parish line could be affected by proposed development as the oil refinery industry develops in the Lake Charles area.
There also are indications that residential and commercial growth could continue along La. 93 south of the Cankton area to the Lafayette Parish line, Fontenot said.
The initial meetings, scheduled for next month, also will include Bill Rodier, executive director of St. Landry Industrial and Development and other parish business leaders whom Fontenot did not identify.
Fontenot said that historically, zoning is not a problem in rural areas, including St. Landry.
That might eventually change, Fontenot said.
“As growth in this parish accelerates during the next 10 years, taking a look at zoning certainly makes sense.
“You also want to look at zoning as something which does not inhibit growth, both commercial and residential,” Fontenot said.
Fontenot said the first meetings concerning zoning will include general discussion of the issue.
“We’ll look at the practicality (of zoning) and review what has been discussed on that subject (by the council) up until now,” Fontenot said.
In another matter, the council unanimously voted to have council attorney Lance Pitre research any parish ordinances that regulate weight limits for vehicles traveling on parish roads.
Pitre said he has performed some preliminary investigation of the issue and determined that there is a 45,000-pound limit on parish roads.
“That’s the only thing that I found in place at this time,” Pitre said.
Council member Pam Gautreau said trucks owned by an oilfield company, which she did not identify, have “broken up” a road in the voting district she represents.
According to a Public Works Committee report passed at the meeting, residents have questioned council members and parish workers whether parishwide road overlaying projects supported by a 2-cent sales tax would sustain the stress from farmers hauling grain from their fields.
Fontenot told the council at the meeting that the roads should be able to withstand heavy loads, providing the loads complied with parish laws.