FutureBR, the two-year-in the-making master plan for East Baton Rouge Parish, was officially approved by the Metro Council on Wednesday.
The vote ends a comprehensive process that included dozens of public meetings with the business community, developers and civic associations and collected feedback from about 3,500 residents — all of whom helped shape the final product, FutureBR officials said.
Mayor-President Kip Holden applauded the council for moving forward with a plan that will help the parish “build the kind of quality of life we want for all of our families rather than simply letting circumstances dictate our future.”
The $1.9 million overhaul of the city-parish’s former Horizon Plan focuses on land use, urban design, neighborhood revitalization, transit and transportation goals, parks and recreation, environment and conservation, housing and infrastructure and economic development.
Several business leaders in the parish, who urged council support, roundly supported the 20-year plan Wednesday.
Adam Knapp, of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, applauded the process used to develop the plan.
“It’s government at it’s best,” he said. “Bringing people into the process and bringing business leaders to the table.”
Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas, president of the Center for Planning Excellence, said the plan meets the “wishes and desires” of parish residents.
“It sets a vision, it recognizes who we are as a community and where we want to go,” she said. “It’s a blueprint, a road map. It’s all the things we hoped it would be.”
The Metro Council was mostly complimentary of the plan, except for some concerns about the inclusion of the northern part of the Baton Rouge loop project.
The loop is a proposed 85-mile toll road surrounding Baton Rouge intended to alleviate traffic.
The project has lost support the past year from residents in surrounding parishes as well as state funding. But a 25-mile northern stretch of the loop was included in the FutureBR plan.
“It’s one of the routes that, really, most people were against,” said Councilman Scott Wilson. “That’s the only thing I can’t support.”
Wilson made a motion to delete the loop from the plan, but the motion died for lack of a second.
John Fregonese, the project’s Oregon-based planning consultant, said the northern part of the loop was included because it’s in the statewide plan, and is intended to acknowledge traffic problems in those areas.
But he said the loop, like other projects in the plan, are conceptual and not a guarantee something will be built.
Councilman Ulysses “Bones” Addison moved that the council accept the FutureBR land use plan, with the provision that Fregonese make a modification clarifying the loop was conceptual.
The council unanimously approved the plan, with only Ronnie Edwards absent.
Fregonese said in the next few weeks a strategic plan will be released to guide implementation of the new master plan. It will include updating zoning codes and picking areas and neighborhoods for improvement projects.