Can Lafayette’s infrastructure support its rapid growth?

A home for sale at Beau Savanne (Photo: Ken Stickney, The Daily Advertiser)

Lafayette is growing faster than its infrastructure system.

The parish can’t afford to improve and maintain the system it has, let alone build to accommodate and manage roughly 66,000 new residents and the traffic expected to move into the parish within the next 15 years.

That’s what a North Carolina-based consulting firm told city planners and other Lafayette Consolidated Government employees and officials during its “economic MRI” presentation Thursday.

“You have a tremendous problem with your infrastructure,” said Joe Minicozzi, of private firm Urban 3. “It’s your community. It’s your decision on what to do here.”

In 1950, the average household income was about $28,000. In 2015, average households in Lafayette make roughly $45,000.

“That’s only a 1.6 growth. So you have cultivated and grown your wealth. You have grown your value personally, but not at the rate that you are putting down infrastructure,” he said.

Lafayette has 6.5 square miles of asphalt the does or will need repair, Minicozzi said. The average $150,000 home pays about $1,500 in property tax, but only $150 of that goes to roads.

“The rest of that goes to parks, other departments, the storm water system, police, fire, etc.,” he said. “Do you see the problem? And that’s just the roads. There’s stuff under the roads called pipes and sewers.”

But Lafayette continues to grow with residential subdivisions expanding further out into the parish.

A third new subdivision, Acadian Meadows, is planned for West Broussard Road, the second on that road that may be annexed into the city of Lafayette.

Brian Clement of CA Homes has submitted preliminary plans for 370 lots in a 99-acre subdivision that would be constructed near West Broussard’s intersection at Ridge Road. Clement, who has been a builder for some 15 years, said at a rate of constructing 40 homes a year, it may take almost a decade to complete construction at the site.

Lafayette Consolidated Government will study how traffic may be affected at the proposed site of the subdivision, which fronts West Broussard, a narrow two-lane road. The proposal goes before the Planning Commission at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Clifton Chenier Center on Willow Street.

Jared Bellard, who represents City-Parish Council District No. 5, which includes all three subdivisions, said he has received few calls from constituents about the proposed subdivision, but said traffic in the area may present some concerns.

“I’m interested in the traffic,” he said. “I don’t see how it can’t be of concern.”

Travis Smith, who reviews traffic plans for LCG, said Acadian Meadows is a “pretty serious subdivision” when it comes to traffic. LCG does traffic impact studies if a development is going to put more than 100 cars per hour on the roadways.

“This one clearly does,” he said.

Part of CA’s plan, Clement said, is to request annexation into Lafayette, which would provide water, sewer and electric services. Beau Savanne, a development under construction about a mile south on West Broussard, has been annexed into the city after contributing to city infrastructure improvements. There are no plans to annex into the city a third new subdivision on West Broussard, Evangeline Grove, which is located less than a half-mile from West Broussard’s southern intersection with Johnson Street.

Clement said CA plans, not yet fully developed, are to sell Acadian Meadows homes probably in the $250,000 to $260,000 range, mostly on lots of about 60 feet by 120 feet. The homes will be between 1,800 to 1,900 square feet.

He said CA’s intention is to build about 110 homes in the first phase of the development’s construction; when that phase is largely said if the Planning Commission OKs CA’s on Sept. 14, CA may begin construction by the end of the year.

Homes in the three developments on West Broussard will sell in Lafayette’s most popular price range, but also in a price range that is in short supply. Midyear reports from the Multiple Listing Service shows about a three-month supply of homes in the $150,000 to $300,000 price range — the most popular. A six-month supply of available homes is considered adequate.

In Evangeline Grove, DSLD is building 117 homes in the price range of $172,900 to $239,900. Southern Lifestyle Development is building up to 40 homes at Beau Savanne this summer; the subdivision may grow to about 80 homes with prices below $300,000.

Smith said the preliminary plat will go to the Planning Commission on Sept. 14; the commission may make some requirements of the developer at that time before he submits a final plat.

Planning Commission meeting

When: Monday at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Planning, Zoning and Codes Auditorium, 220 W. Willow St., Lafayette, Building 8

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