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|Sterlington turns to technology to aid growth|
A high-tech project using the latest satellite mapping technology could help the town of Sterlington better manage growth in northern Ouachita Parish.
Sterlington Mayor Vern Breland is working with the town's engineer and surveyor to create computerized maps of the town's borders and infrastructure to give officials a better picture of Sterlington's resources.
"We're looking to take Sterlington into the 21st century with our maps," said Breland. "What we've got now are maps upon maps that go years back and they just aren't that accurate."
The multi-stage project is centered on ArcView, a software application used by governments and industries to create maps utilizing extremely accurate coordinates from Global Positioning Satellites.
Breland said Sterlington surveyor John Tally has been working for the better part of a year to improve the town's understanding of its geography.
"When Mayor Cliff Bullock was in office, we found out we didn't know exactly where the town boundaries were," Breland said. "That's when we brought in the town surveyor so he could tell us exactly where the boundaries were."
Tally has also been marking the locations of the town's numerous sewer lines and lift stations so that officials have up-to-date sewer maps.
The new maps are just one part of Breland's attempt to bring fresh community development ideas to Sterlington under a set of planning guidelines known nationally as Smart Growth.
"Smart Growth is the new, 'old way' of thinking about development and how to layout your town or your city," Breland said. "It's all intertwined together."
Businesses, residential developments and government infrastructure are all intermingled under Smart Growth plans, eliminating overlap and reducing the overall environmental impact of development.
Under a Smart Growth plan, developers would have access to accurate maps of infrastructure, rights of way and neighboring developments.
That knowledge is key to successful planning, Breland said.
Sterlington's town surveyor said the plans for mapping are all inclusive.
"Everything I'm working on within surveying in the town areas will, in the future, merge into the new ArcView maps on one coordinates system," Tally said.
Though in its earliest stages, Breland said the benefits of the new program are already being felt.
As town officials deal with various issues dealing with the new Highway 2 bridge, Breland said they're looking at maps generated on ArcView.