Date: December 6-11, 2015
Location: St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana
Sponsor: St. Tammany Parish and Greater New Orleans, Inc.
Subject Area: Land use, design, and resilience strategies for development in southcentral St. Tammany Parish
Panel Chair: Jim Heid, FASLA, Founder, UrbanGreen, Inc, Healdsburg, CA
Background and Panel Assignment
St. Tammany Parish, is located on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. St. Tammany Parish (Parish) is separated from the major population centers of Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish by a twenty-six mile bridge on the eastern edge of Lake Pontchartrain, and the 24-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway at the Lake’s center. The Parish is included within the Greater New Orleans MSA. Construction of the Causeway, some 50 years ago, transformed the Parish from a low-density, rural community into the fastest growing parish in the State of Louisiana, with the fifth largest population in the State. The Parish continues to experience both the sustained and sudden influx of residents and businesses from coastal and flood-prone areas of Southeast Louisiana, intensifying the strain of recovery from the seven major disasters that have hit Southeast Louisiana over the last ten years.
St. Tammany Parish has spent a considerable amount of time thinking and developing a philosophy on resilience. There have been many grant opportunities due to multiple storm related events impacting both the Parish and the region. These grant opportunities as well as other funding have provided the Parish the ability to extensively study the southcentral area of the Parish, also known as Lacombe. The Parish requested that the Panel look at their resilience philosophy and completed studies to begin to connect-the-dots on how projected growth should occur within the Study Area.
The Parish’s primary questions were:
- What are land use strategies and design recommendations for development in southcentral St. Tammany Parish?
- How can these proposed strategies and recommendations improve water quality and drainage within the study area?
- Recommend resilience strategies that can be incorporated into both the immediate study as well as Parish-wide?
Summary of Recommendations
Primary recommendations include:
- Collaborate and cooperate for a consistent economic development strategy.
Redesign a coordinated economic development program at the local and regional levels, tied in to the greater southeastern Louisiana region but that shows a clear vision for St. Tammany Parish and a unique identity for the “Northshore.”
- Refresh the vision and update the comprehensive plan. A modernized and progressive code with a clearly articulated vision for the parish’s development is a win-win for the parish, the developers, and the community. It will bring predictability, reduce uncertainty, ensure consistent application of the process, and articulate expectations for development.
- Master plan the study area as a pilot and model for resilience. Use the south central study area as a model resilient corridor/community by developing a vision and zoning overlay that elevates natural systems, integrates economic development, and innovates for compact development and stacked benefits.
- Develop a portfolio of transportation solutions beyond building roads. Reduce automobile dependence by better using the existing ride-sharing lots, by incentivizing the largest employers in the region to change commuting behaviors, and by accommodating growth in a series of new town centers with walkable day-to-day services.
- Deliberately create a range of housing choices. In the long-range planning efforts, include a variety of housing types and densities and focus density near jobs to increase housing affordability. The parish is increasingly becoming unaffordable, which is decreasing the area’s resilience and overall quality of life.
- Implement the water quality improvement plan as part of a holistic strategy to address water in St. Tammany Parish. Integral to implementing the recommendations of the St. Tammany Parish Watershed Management Study is the development of a St. Tammany water quality improvement program.
- Implement new funding strategies for necessary services. Leverage new growth to fund and improve outdated and fragmented infrastructure through political and community leadership. Those who benefit must pay their fair share.