A comment by a Lafayette City-Parish Council member during a recent hearing on an appeal of a Lafayette Planning Commission decision struck me as odd. Jared Bellard, who represents District 5, expressed surprise that the Planning Commission informed all parties involved of the opportunity to appeal the decision. The statement was odd because the council plays an integral role in a very public process which ensures that their constituency is provided fair and equal treatment.
In 2014, the commission considered 82 cases of which only five decisions were appealed and heard by the council. Given the low number of appeals, perhaps that is the explanation for Mr. Bellard’s lapse of memory for the process.
The Lafayette Planning Commission reviews all applications for subdivision of property in the city and unincorporated parish of Lafayette. The professionals who work in the development community are well versed in our public hearing protocol. However, most of the general public is not familiar with the process and we make every effort to inform everyone in attendance of the application hearing procedure to make certain that there is a level playing field in the public arena.
A public hearing is conducted prior to every action of the Planning Commission. We preface every meeting with the reading of a statement that outlines how we conduct the public hearing and we are emphatic in noting that commission decisions are final unless appealed. We provide the information necessary for the filing of an appeal to the council. Our procedures assure that everyone has an equal voice in the development of Lafayette and the impact which our decisions have in the community. It must be noted that the appeal referenced in this letter was denied; the council supported the commission decision.
The Lafayette Planning Commission is a public body composed of five individuals who serve as volunteers without compensation. Three of the five must reside within the city of Lafayette and the other two in unincorporated Lafayette Parish. All are appointed by the council. The current Planning Commission make-up is one of the strongest in recent memory with considerable experience, knowledge and commitment to charting the growth of Lafayette.
In addition to reviewing the platting of properties, the commission is the keeper of record for PlanLafayette, the comprehensive planning document which we adopted and approved in 2014 following extensive public engagement. Currently, we are reviewing and providing direction on a Unified Development Code which will support the implementation of PlanLafayette. A council vote on the UDC is scheduled for May 5.
Our regular meetings are at 5:30 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. You are welcomed to attend!
Bruce M. Conque, Chairman, Lafayette Planning Commission