East Feliciana Parish – Comprehensive Resiliency Plan

Like many Louisiana communities, East Feliciana Parish residents want to retain the rural quality of the parish while enhancing economic services within the parish’s town centers. The East Feliciana Parish Comprehensive Resiliency Plan helps to preserve the parish’s rural character by encouraging new residential growth in or adjacent to established town centers, creating rural “smart growth” communities. Town centers retain their historic and cultural patterns, and existing historic structures are rehabilitated and reused. New development highlights the region’s historic charm while also infusing modern qualities to produce varied and culturally rich communities.

The Comprehensive Resiliency Plan stems from a strong public engagement process that included more than 100 stakeholder interviews, two parish-wide and two town-focused public workshops, and project websites with up-to-date information. Collectively, they allowed hundreds of residents to provide input during the planning process.

Aligned with the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan, the East Feliciana Parish Comprehensive Resiliency Plan guides land use, economic development, and transportation investments in the parish for the next 20 years. Its five major guiding principles are: 1) land use and housing, 2) equity and opportunity, 3) environmental health, 4) economy, and 5) transportation. The guiding principles were ranked and several strategic priorities were identified based on the parish’s existing needs and vulnerabilities. Some of these needs included economic development that is compatible with existing land use and development patterns; improved quality of roadways; diverse and affordable housing options; diverse employment options; more health and human services; protection of rural character; increased access to recreational services; and challenges introduced by a low tax base. The plan also supports the continuation of farming, agriculture, and timber industries outside of towns. The parish-wide plan includes additional plans for the towns of Slaughter, Clinton, the Sticks Community, Jackson, Wilson, and Norwood.

Resilience Planning in Action

The Comprehensive Resiliency Plan includes four main elements that provide the foundation for the strategies and policy guidelines. They are land use and transportation, economic development, housing needs, and cultural heritage assessment. With emphasis on these four elements, the parish identifies and accommodates desired development types, opportunities to capitalize on existing assets, and strategies to strengthen the parish’s economy by protecting and fostering important industries to ensure long-term resilience.

Environment

The natural, rural setting is an essential asset in the parish that provides economic opportunities in certain sectors and that parish residents cherish. The plan aims to protect natural, open areas and promote housing and roadway developments that suite the rural qualities of the parish. The parish’s natural resources are also essential to protecting and fostering the forestry, agriculture, and manufacturing industries that are central to the local economy.

Proposed Actions:

  • Adopt a rural overlay to maintain the parish’s rural character and natural assets that encourages things like larger minimum lot sizes and building setbacks, as well as minimum standards for landscaping and/or tree retention, in certain locations.
  • Consider the impact of the oil and gas industry on the environment by conducting an impact analysis and create a parish ‘oil and gas master plan’ to guide where future drilling should occur and ensure the parish’s natural landscape is maintained.

Infrastructure

Parish residents expressed concern about the quality of roadways and sewer infrastructure in the parish. The plan prioritizes infrastructure and park needs, including a roadway improvement program, more and safer walking options, a truck route signing program, well connected infrastructure and services, and future water and sewer infrastructure considerations.

Proposed Actions:

  • Balance infrastructure enhancements with the town’s existing rural, small town feel.
  • Improve vital infrastructure to ensure it can meet the parish’s future needs, including roads, sewers, water, technology, education, trails, etc.
  • Prepare a water and sewer inventory, needs assessment, and plan to provide for future infrastructure needs.
  • Identify a process for creating and maintaining horse and bicycle trails in various locations throughout the parish.
  • Create a premier 21-mile multi-use trail that spans the length of the parish, such as by transforming the former railroad into the trail system.
  • Provide the most up-to-date digital infrastructure to support business and community needs.

Community

The strategies and goals outlined in the plan heavily emphasize quality of life issues and economic development. The plan aims to create diverse, quality housing options to meet the desires and needs of East Feliciana Parish residents, particularly retirees and young adults. The plan further emphasizes increasing jobs and job skills throughout the parish to attract and retain expertise. Public health is improved through outreach and educational programs, as well as greater recreational opportunities.

Proposed Actions:

  • Ensure that any amendments to the zoning ordinance protect the parish’s agricultural, ranching, and tree farming practices.
  • Identify opportunities through feasibility studies to expand businesses related to locally grown agricultural products, especially organic food products.
  • Seek out opportunities to connect cultural and heritage tourism to the parish’s other economic development priorities, particularly through public-private partnerships.
  • Expand use of existing schools and renovate uninhabited school buildings to be used as community centers for community gatherings and social events.
  • Consider expanding the number of second homes for use during major storm events.
  • Identify publicly-owned sites in the parish’s towns, such as schools, parks, or town halls, to serve as local fitness centers and recreation centers.

Next Steps

The Comprehensive Resiliency Plan includes an implementation matrix that outlines the timeline of specific actions, on the order of one or more years, as well as responsible agencies and entities that will take the lead and ensure that actions are successfully implemented.