After 25 years, Planning and Zoning increases fees

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This article published in the Jan. 20, 2022 print edition

Carolyn Roy | News Editor
While the City Council recently passed an ordinance outlining new fees for in the Planning and Zoning Department, Director Shontrell Roque explained the need for the changes to a fee schedule that has not been updated in 25 years.
Roque said, “To operate the Planning and Zoning Department efficiently and to provide the most up-to-date information to our citizens, we increased building fees. The world of technology is ever changing and these changes include mapping technology, building codes, Floodplain management, permitting, and software updates.
“Permitting and inspection fees for planning and zoning have not be increased in over 25 years but technology and the scope of the land has changed several times since then. With increased fees, we are now able to stay at pace with these advances.”
She does not believe the increase will significantly increase the cost of doing business here since the fee increase was only about 4.5 percent for most items.
Roque provided a comparison of the old fees to others around the State.
The first example is that other municipalities charge by the square foot, averaging $100 per square foot for any commercial build, whereas the City of Natchitoches charged $3.50 per thousand for all permits. That fee is now $7.50 per thousand, but the City still does not charge by the square foot.
The City has a contract with the State Fire Marshal’s office to review all new construction developments within the city limits. “We do not charge to review new commercial development plans but we will charge a permit fee for alterations, add-ons and renovations,” Roque said.
“During our research to increase permit fees, we found that the permitting department is below the National Average for midsized cities which is around $1,200 to $3,000. The permit cost to build a home in Natchitoches is from $546 to $2,000 depending on the project costs.”
Roque said that to facilitate the permitting process, there are several options. Go to the City of Natchitoches website under the Planning and Zoning Department and find the building permit application or contact the Planning and Zoning office directly.
As for what documentation is needed to get a permit, it
depends on what is proposed do at the location. New construction, add-ons and renovations for residential or commercial, will require approved plans.
A permit can be issued the same day; the office allows for a 24-hour turn around on non-plan reviewed permits. For permits that require site or plan review, allow for a 48–72 hour turn around.
The Planning and Zoning office is located at 700 Second St., hours are Monday –Thursday, 7 a.m.-4:30p.m. and Fridays 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. The telephone number is (318)357-3840.