20 Years of Saving Our Lake and Coast
Lake Pontchartrain
Basin Foundation
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Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation's success depends on the dedication and talents of thousands of volunteers. People often volunteer with us because they feel a personal commitment to protecting and restoring our basin, so that all of us can enjoy it. Motivated by this valuable feeling of ownership, volunteers get involved in a variety of fun, interesting events that we hold throughout the year. Learn more

Many of these events are annual, including our Back to the Beach Festival, Beach Sweep, Fishing Rodeo, Golf Classic, and Northshore "Let's Make Waves" Party.

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation staff also welcomes those who wish to volunteer in our office. Office volunteers regularly offer their time and talents throughout the year. Their assistance is invaluable. Learn more


land use planning

A Citizen’s Guide to Protecting Wetlands in the Pontchartrain Basin (handbook)
Discussion Points for Public Comments on Environmental Permits - Part 1 Part 2
Our Vanishing Wetlands: How Citizens Can Protect Wetlands (brochure)

Development Review

LPBF monitors development proposals in the Basin’s sixteen parishes. Projects of serious concern are those that may have damaging repercussions due to their size, design, or location, or because they pose a threat to our natural resources or quality of life. LPBF reviews federal, state and regional regulatory processes for these developments, issuing written comments for the public record and participating in public hearings and meetings. Please contact us for comment information.


Sprawl, Smart Growth, and Citizen Action

How communities grow and develop is critical to the health of the Pontchartrain Basin. Unfortunately, one of our region’s biggest challenges is sprawl – poorly planned development that spreads out from urban areas, like Metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge. 

Growing Smarter: Guidelines for Low Impact Development in the Pontchartrain Basin (Guide)
Land Protection: Ways to Conserve Land (brochure)
Sprawl: Paving Away Our Future (brochure)

Sprawl is forever changing our lands and waterways as small farms, forests, and wetlands are being converted into subdivisions, shopping centers, and business complexes. Sprawl produces five to seven times more pollution than a forest and nearly twice as much pollution as more compact development*.

While our region needs development to continue to grow and prosper, it must be done in a smart way. Smart Growth addresses sprawl through proper land use planning. Smart Growth is well-planned development that revitalizes communities, provides transportation choices, keeps housing affordable, and protects natural areas and farmland.

Citizens play a crucial role in shaping the future of our region by providing input on how the local landscape will change and grow. Please see below for helpful information on how to get involved.

*Source: Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 2006,

Our Community, Our Choice
It’s All about You: Getting Involved
A Citizen’s Planning Toolbox
Linking Land Use & Zoning
Smart or Dumb: Which Way Do We Grow?
Planning Our Future: What Communities Need
Helpful Websites

Our Community, Our Choice

Land use planning helps communities address sprawl by bringing local government, businesses, interest groups, developers, and citizens together to plan for the future growth and development of their area.

Read on to find out how you can become a land use planning advocate in your community.

It’s All about You: Getting Involved

Being an active member of the community comes from being informed about local events and issues. Planning activities and events are generally announced in local newspapers, neighborhood newsletters, and local or parish government websites, or there may be a mailing list to receive city or parish meeting agendas. 

While citizens still need more ways to get involved in land use and zoning decisions, existing opportunities include:

  • Attending and speaking at public meetings or hearings on development proposals and planning issues of the City or Parish Council, or the Planning and Zoning Commissions.
  • Watching for permit or zoning signs that are posted at sites where land use or zoning changes are being applied for. Project plans can often be viewed at local planning or building offices.
  • Participating in planning charrettes (meetings) that are hosted by local planning commissions, neighborhood committees, or community groups. At a charrette, critical community issues are identified and discussed, which then form the basis for the policies and proposals that will be incorporated into the land use Master Plan.
A Citizen’s Planning Toolbox



- Myths & Facts About Affordable & High Density Housing

Site Design:
- Introduction to Better Site Design
- Commercial Benefits of Better Site Design
- Residential Benefits of Better Site Design
- "Big Box" Retailer Store Evaluator (interactive)

Fact Sheets:
- Campaign Flyer, Community Survey, and Land Use worksheets
- Evaluating a Proposed Project
- Getting Started
- Lobbying and Vote Tracking
- Media

- Planning Board Letter to Neighbors about Project Integration
- Planning Board Letter to Developers about Project Integration
- Invitation to Project Integration Meeting
- Update Letter on Project Integration Meeting

The Smarter Land Use Guidebook: Achieving Effective Collaboration among Conflicted Neighbors, Developers, Environmentalists, and Board

Linking Land Use & Zoning

Zoning regulations are laws used to divide a community into different districts or “zones”, and designate how land will be used in each zone; examples include residential, commercial, industrial, mixed-use, or open space. Zoning regulations set standards for allowable density, building heights, and lot sizes. These regulations can be found at local parish or municipal planning, zoning, or building departments.

In order to be truly effective, a community’s land use and zoning plans, regulations, and policies need the force of law. By guiding community design these tools help to ensure an area’s cultural, social, economic, and environmental well-being. Plans and regulations with the force of law ensure fair, rational, and consistent land use decisions, which help to protect community assets.

Smart or Dumb: Which Way Do We Grow?

Smart Growth is growth that serves the community, the economy, and the environment.
It is based on traditional development principles and includes benefits such as:

  • Distinct, attractive communities
  • Walkable neighborhoods
  • A mix of land uses
  • Compact building design
  • A variety of housing options and styles
  • More transportation choices and less traffic
  • Abundant natural areas, farmland, and environmental resources
  • A strong economy with ample job opportunities

Current growth patterns in the Pontchartrain Basin actually emphasize and encourage the exact opposite, sprawl. Sprawl is poorly planned development that spreads out from urban areas, causing:

  • Low density, "cookie-cutter" development
  • A separation of land uses
  • Higher taxes
  • Fewer housing types and options
  • Degraded natural areas and environmental resources
  • Increased traffic congestion and commute times
  • Fewer public parks and recreation areas
  • Disinvestment and blight in older communities and urban areas

What is a Sustainable Community?

A sustainable community is one that strives to improve the health and quality of life for its residents by limiting waste, preventing pollution, promoting conservation and efficiency, and utilizing available local resources to enhance economic growth. Sustainable development focuses on restoring abandoned buildings (rather than building new ones), revitalizing blighted neighborhoods (instead of developing new subdivisions), preserving and enhancing existing open space, and improving transit and pedestrian pathways (instead of building new roads and highways).

For example, an abandoned regional mall could be redeveloped as a multi-use “park” that integrates office, residential, small business, and recreational functions. (Source: Emerging Trends in Real Estate, 2000)


Planning Our Future: What Communities Need
Regional, parish, or city land use plans contain goals, objectives, and implementation strategies that express the vision a community has for its future growth. Unfortunately, many Basin communities fail to use these important planning tools. In most cases, planning laws are often weak and existing guidelines are frequently ignored in order to accommodate political or economic interests. Another major concern is that the public has few opportunities to participate in planning and zoning decisions that directly affect them.

In August 2006, the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) released a landmark report that recommends practical, much needed land use reforms for the City of New Orleans (Download the report at These reforms can be easily adapted to other Basin communities. The report recommends:

A Land Use Master Plan with the Force of Law

  • All land use actions and regulations must be consistent with a parish or city Master Plan so that they are legally recognizable and enforceable.

Reallocation of Decision Making Power

  • Planning and Zoning Commissions will review all land use decisions to ensure their concurrence with the local Master Plan; final approval of zoning changes or conditional uses will shift from the City Council to the Planning and Zoning Commissions.

Restructuring the Planning and Zoning Commissions

  • Commissioners will be nominated by a committee of professional planners as well as neighborhood and business representatives to be eligible for appointment by elected political officials.

Providing for Organized Meaningful Neighborhood Participation

  • Create a Neighborhood Participation Office and establish a system of Recognized Neighborhood Organizations that will serve as the official voice for each neighborhood.


Land Use Planning


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