"It's definitely not hampering business," says Conque of Bloomington's strict commercial landscape regulations. "If anything it's helping because they are booming."
He now hopes some of the same principles are on their way to being integrated throughout Lafayette.
"It's a growing trend across the nation to address the aesthetic value of a community," he says. "I think we need a new sign ordinance. It's one element of smart growth. It's a visual step to improving the whole community."
The City-Parish Council has already adopted its strictest zoning regulations to date, including a ban on pole signs, for a new stretch of development coming to the recently opened portion of Louisiana Avenue connecting to Interstate 10. Now the council is considering additional sign restrictions across the parish.
At its last meeting, the council was scheduled to vote on an ordinance limiting all new commercial signs to a height of 30 feet. That ordinance has now been tabled in favor of a more comprehensive study on the issue. After the study is complete, the City-Parish Planning, Zoning and Codes Department will then schedule public hearings on any newly drafted sign ordinance.
Conque says he would like to see the parish explore a monument sign requirement for some areas of Lafayette. City-Parish President Durel has also suggested a move to less obtrusive signs and is pushing for a property tax break for businesses that agree to change their signs ahead of any imposed deadline. Durel, who used to own a retail pet store, says he understands signage can be expensive for small businesses. "I'd like to see us use a carrot, an incentive [for businesses to adopt smaller signs]," he says.
Councilman Lenwood Broussard has also requested that all local sign companies be involved in any plans to revamp the parish sign ordinance. He says he is concerned a sign height limit of 30 feet may be too restrictive for some parish businesses, such as those located off interstates and frontage roads. "I'm really not a pro on this," Broussard says. "But when you think about it, 30 feet, that's not that high."
Councilman Chris Williams, who proposed the across-the-board 30-foot height limit on signs, now agrees that some concessions may need to be made for certain businesses. "We're trying to come up with something that is middle of the road that both parties feel is reasonable," he says. "I don't think we'll ever be a monument sign community."
One model the Planning and Zoning Commission is likely to look at is Lafayette's neighboring city of Carencro. In February, Carencro adopted a new ordinance that, with the exception of interstate property, limits all new businesses to using monument signs. Mayor Glenn Brasseaux says the city first tried to enact a law requiring monument signs for all new and existing businesses three years ago, before local retailers squashed the proposal.
"The retailers were just all up in arms," he says. The resulting compromise was to grandfather in all existing signs. "So, a lot of people say, 'Well you really didn't do anything,'" Brasseaux adds. "But at least it's a start."
Conque says he understands the resistance to change from local retailers, but insists that the alternative may be worse. "People say we have enough rules and regulations," he says. "Well, we didn't have any rules and regulations and look what happened to Johnston Street."
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.