Planning Commission talks comprehensive plan

Published 11:15 am Friday, March 22, 2013

The Washington Parish Planning Commission wrapped up work on two modifications to the Comprehensive Development Plan and continued discussion on another during its meeting Tuesday.

Commissioner Claude Bloom presented a report on the incorporation of the ordinance that regulates parish junk yards.

“The junk yard ordinance was passed by the Parish Council but wasn’t incorporated into the comprehensive plan,” he said. “So our suggestion was that we incorporate it into the comprehensive plan and put it all in one place.”

Bloom added the existing ordinance to the table of contents as Article 7 and worked on formatting, changing the numbering system so the document would fit into the comprehensive plan.

The commission approved forwarding the amendment to the Infrastructure Committee for consideration. After approval there, the document will go to the Parish Council, which will make the decision about incorporating it into the comprehensive plan.

Additionally, Bloom presented proposed guidelines on the installation and use of modular homes, to be added to the Comprehensive Development Plan as Section 1 of Article 8. The provision, he said, states that modular homes are subject to the same requirements and provisions as stick-built homes.

The parish currently exempts modular structures 10 feet by 12 feet or smaller from permitting. Under the new provision, a building that size used as a dwelling would be “subject to the same permit requirements as any other habituated facility, regardless of size,” Bloom said. Furthermore, small, non-permitted structures that are expanded at a later date would have to go through the full permitting process under the proposed guidelines.

“The requirements include, but are not limited to, applications, permits, fees and inspection process,” the provision continues. “Modular housing will comply with the standards outlined in the Louisiana adopted International Building Codes as amended.”

The commission voted to recommend to the Parish Council the addition of the provision to the comprehensive plan. The issue will first be brought to the Infrastructure Committee for further discussion.

Rev. Jerome Warren, chairman of the committee tasked with studying an amendment concerning mobile homes, said the document has not been finalized. Discussions will continue, and the committee’s recommendations will be presented at a later date, he said.

The Infrastructure Committee requested that all three changes to comprehensive plan be submitted as one package, clerk Sharon Lyons said. That measure is intended to cut back on advertising costs. Therefore, the Planning Commission agreed that the incorporation of the junk yard ordinance and the modular home provision be held until the mobile home amendment is ready.

“We should have it within a couple of months,” Chairman Levi Lewis said.

Bloom raised a discussion about if old ordinances should be incorporated into the comprehensive plan. Parish attorney Wayne Kuhn suggested including an index of the regulations passed prior to the development of the comprehensive plan would make the document more user friendly.

The obstacle to that process, clerk Sharon Lyons said, would be cost. Other parishes have paid a company about $80,000 to compile the ordinances and make the regulations searchable online. St. Tammany Parish, for example, has a state-of-the-art website where that information can be accessed, she said.

“It’s a beautiful setup, but unfortunately we haven’t ever had the money to do that,” she said.

The ordinances people often have difficulty locating are those passed prior to 1999, before computer access was widely available. However, Lyons said, citizens frequently make positive comments about the fact that the comprehensive plan and other ordinances are now available on the parish government website.

Kuhn proposed that, as a start, the ordinances passed after 1999 that relate to comprehensive development could be reincorporated into the plan.

The parish’s Comprehensive Development Plan can be accessed online at