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Bossier City Council expresses concerns over road plan

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Bossier City Council members have expressed doubts over a plan designed to help guide growth for future roadways.

The Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) gave an update about the Regional Thoroughfare Plan to the council at their Aug. 14 agenda meeting.

According to NLCOG, the Thoroughfare Plan is “a mechanism to identify and preserve right-of-way and promoting roadway design consistency and connectivity across political boundaries.”

“It’s taking all these different plans and documents for highways and road projects, smashing them together and see which ones would need additional right of way and the property for that right of way,” explained NLCOG Executive Director Kent Rogers.

However, Councilman Tim Larkin fears the plan limits what people can do with their land.

“So when a farmer sees a red line through his land, can he get a building permit or can’t he? Or are we going to have to buy the land?” Larkin asked. “It’s where private land owned by individual comes into contact with what the public thinks is a better idea and should be used for a project.”

Councilman Scott Irwin said a major concern of his district is the extension of Arthur Ray Teague Parkway south. He asked if someone wanted to put a gas well in that corridor for the extension, would they be able to do so.

Larkin said, “They cannot.”

“Then what are we doing? Seems like a waste of time,” said Irwin.

Rogers answered that any limitations imposed on land use are those based upon the city’s street map, Unified Development Code (UDC), and master plan.

“We’re just taking those and incorporating those into here,” Rogers said. “It would be the same rules and regulations of your UDC. It’s to give a guide and say, ‘We have this corridor coming through here and let’s see how we can work together and do this.’”

Larkin also stressed the importance of clear rules and regulations.

“At the end of the day, the way you make really bad laws that hurt people is when they’re sloppy and they don’t say what they’re supposed to do or they leave out a lot of things. Everyone is going to interpret this in some way and we’re going to adopt legislation that plans thoroughfares with a clear set of rules,” he said.

Larkin then pressed NLCOG whether owners would be made aware of planned thoroughfares through their property. Rogers said they had public meetings and had gathered comments.

“With those future corridors being broad brush areas, you don’t really know (who it would affect). In rural areas, it would be more identifiable about whose land it is,” Rogers said.

The plan has been through the public comment period and is going through review by public bodies. NLCOG is taking input from the Bossier City-Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission, Bossier Parish Police Jury, and the city council. NLCOG will then come back to the city after responding to comments from these bodies.

Rogers answered the council’s questions, specifically how the plan can be enforced.

“I had a long conversation with Councilman (Tim) Larkin. The implementation and rules and regulations come through the current UDC and the appropriate ordinance and resolutions from the council and police jury,” Rogers said. “We’re not propagating down any new rules.”

Rogers cited the extension of Innovation Drive as an example, saying, “The original maps are straight line across. As the Holmes Group came in (to build the Holmes Honda car dealership), the line got curved. It got massaged and worked.”