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Editor/Consulting Writer

Although no official action was taken, St. Landry Parish Council members questioned and engaged parish president Jessie Bellard Wednesday night about infrastructure and land use issues that affect the 13 election districts.

Council members were particularly interested in the progress of parishwide broadband initiatives which seek to make high-speed internet available in rural areas and how effectively the parish is handling drainage issues in some areas of St. Landry.

The Public Works Committee discussion also included whether there is interest in committing to  a parishwide zoning ordinance, as the Interstate-49 corridor south of Opelousas continues to expand.


Bellard told the Committee that work crews hired by the parish are continuing to work daily on projects that clear ditches and clean or reinstall culverts.

Funding for a previously delayed project intended to address water flow problems on bayous Carron and Mallet will be released soon after approval from the Corps of Engineers, while Bellard also said there is a plan to spend about $5.5 million for a drainage project in District 9.

A drainage matter on Bayou Darbonne will potentially involve legal action between the parish and a private landowner, said Bellard.

Council member Ken Marks said during a meeting last month that a cable placed across the bayou has allegedly led to drainage backflow that primarily hampers farmers north of the area from irrigating crops.


Bellard said private companies are competing to place cable in rural areas as the parish seeks to improve internet capability.

The Lafayette Utility System has been working around Eunice and in areas where St. Landry and Evangeline parishes adjoin, Bellard added.

“What is happening is (the parish) is making sure everyone for the most part gets fast and reliable internet service,” said Bellard.

Companies have been using their own money and obtaining federal and state grant funding in order to move the internet projects forward, Bellard said, while the Granting Underserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) is providing more revenue to entice companies to invest in bringing high speed opportunities.

Bellard pointed out that high speed cable may not go directly to every property in St. Landry.

“However, now everyone will have that chance,” Bellard added.

Some property owners are refusing to let cable companies dig on their land in order to provide high speed service, council member Alvin Stelly said during a June meeting.


Parish engineer Jacob Jarrell said St. Landry has no zoning restrictions for land areas outside municipalities.

Jarrell pointed out that the parish has created a rural subdivision ordinance that establishes regulations for residential areas.

Many questions about parish zoning have occurred as solar farms are being constructed in the Plaisance and Port Barre areas, Jarrell said.

Jarrell noted that the I-49 area between Opelousas and Sunset is now considered to mainly support commercial activity.

The Council recently approved a parishwide Planning Commission that was created to decide land use issues rather than the crafting of a comprehensive zoning ordinance.