[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish selects firms to aid in master planning process

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Thu Aug 16 19:58:53 EDT 2012

St. Bernard Parish selects firms to aid in master planning process

Published: Thursday, August 16, 2012, 2:06 PM Updated: Thursday, August
16, 2012, 2:06 PM

By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, The Times-Picayune

St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta today officially announced that
Winston Associates of Boulder, Colo., will lead the parish through its first
ever master land use planning process. Once completed, the master plan will
serve as the basis for land use and economic development in the parish for
decades to come.

The parish is paying for the plan through $400,000 in U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant funds. The
planning process is scheduled to begin in late September and take about a
year to complete.

The St. Bernard Planning Commission and a steering committee made up of
parish residents and business owners, along with suggestions made at regular
public meetings, will help guide the planning process.

Subcontractors czb, LLC of Alexandria, Va., and Donald Poland Consulting of
Hartford, Conn. will provide planning services. Neel-Schaffer of Jackson,
Miss., and ARCADIS of Highlands Ranch, Colo., will be providing engineering
and environmental services for the project. Both firms also have handled
various projects in the metro New Orleans area.

James Richardson, the director of Louisiana State University's Public
Administration Institute, will advise the team on economic development
issues. Wolff Lyon Architects, Boulder, Colo., will provide community design

While none of the firms are headquartered in Louisiana, Neel-Schaffer and
ARCADIS each have handled various projects in the metro New Orleans area and
Charles Buki, the head of czb, has analyzed market trends in St. Bernard and
other local parishes on behalf of the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Poland, who also is an associate with czb, LLC, helped rewrite the parish's
new zoning code that initially restricted multifamily housing and
contributed to St. Bernard's subsequent long and expensive federal court
battle over the Fair Housing Act. That 2009 zoning code eventually was
rescinded in 2011 under pressure from the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development but earlier this year the St. Bernard Parish Council
approved an amended version that allows multifamily dwellings in more zoning

In the next few months, Winston and its various subcontractors are expected
to put together a short-term maintenance and sales plan for the vacant
Louisiana Land Trust lots that still dot the parish's post-Hurricane Katrina
landscape. In part, the planning team will examine the best options for bulk
purchases of LLT lots such as parties interested in purchasing five or more
vacant lots for larger developments. That is expected to include bundling
lots in targeted areas that the parish would push to redevelop first.

The state currently is fielding interest in the lots through Aug. 28 and, if
more than one person is interested, an open auction will be held Oct. 13 in
the St. Bernard Parish Council chambers. About a fifth of the parish's total
lots are expected to sell in the current round of sales, or 447 of about
2,400 remaining properties.

But while in some case lots are now larger because the parish is joining all
adjacent LLT lots throughout the parish, individuals in the current round of
sales only can purchase up to four lots. The parish has agreed to accept
deeds to the remaining unsold lots by year's end, although that process
could begin as early as mid-November, when the current round of sales likely
will be finalized.

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