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Letter To The Editor: Actions of The Port of Caddo-Bossier not fair to private property owners

Dear Editor,

The collective residents of the Harts Island Road area in the village of Robson, Louisiana, whose family homes are now surrounded by the Caddo Bossier Parishes Port Commission, here in after referred to as “The Port” would like to present a collective voice regarding the forth coming tax renewal  for the said Caddo Bossier Port.  Not acting lightly or capriciously, the residents feel actions of the “Port” are neither wise nor fair to private property owners in both Caddo and Bossier Parishes!  This collective opinion is born out by the following;
(1)    The residents, whose homes that have been located on their respective tracts of property for years,  in one case, the late 1800’s, moved to this area to be in the rural country area of Caddo Parish.  “God’s country” an oft used metaphor, to describe wide open areas of wilderness, woods, and streams, untouched by human encroachment and industrialization was the attraction that drew residents to this area.  For years this area has been just that, in fact, so much so, that bald eagles, regularly raise their young  in this area every season which many people drive out to this area to watch and photograph.  And yet, we have been told that “we should have known  better than to have bought property in this area” by Port officials.  When did the metaphor of  “God’s country” become “Port country”?
(2)    Since the Port has spent tremendous amounts of money, statistically grading property for potential purchase,  who is the next individual lucky enough  to have a large piece of property that is now in the purchasing crosshairs of the Port, ready to receive taxpayer dollars for useless farmland!
(3)    The Port exists to create badly needed jobs.  However, the Port says “we need more land” and yet the Port has a number of tracts of land in their inventory that they don’t even have as “shovel ready”.  As taxpayers, the question begs, why does the Port have land, bought and paid for, and yet, it is not “shovel ready”?  When a big client shows up, is the Port going to say, “here is a beautiful  piece of land we could work with you on but, give us 2 or 3 years and maybe we can have it zoned by then!”  So why do they need more land if what they have is not usable?
(4)    The Port says it needs more land, and has engaged the firm of Burk-Kleinpeter to statistically grade and evaluate potential properties for future purchase.  Why does the Port’s own consulting firm, tell the Port that the largest piece of property in their current inventory is “unusable” due to pre-existing  conditions and yet, the firm “grades” other properties as “prime”  for purchase, even though these properties suffer from the same pre-existing residential boundaries?
(5)    Citing the need for more land, why does the Port insist on needing to purchase more land that is non-contiguous to the established Port campus and miles away from the Red River, when in fact, private land owners still own land within the Port campus that the Port still has not purchased?
(6)    Some of the acreage the “Port” wants to purchase suffers from  the exact same zoning issues as acreage they currently have, and that is it already has pre-existing residential zoning issues.  If the Port purchased land by mistake, with taxpayer money, then why are they wanting to do it again?
(7)    What established neighborhoods along Highway 1, Flournoy-Lucas Rd., Leonard Road,  may in fact may be sharing a property line with Port property?  Has the Port notified these people of the coming change in their way of life, or of the change in their property values?
(8)    Regardless of whether you are a resident or business property owner, you pay property taxes on your residential or business property and if you purchase additional properties, you have to pay property tax on those acquisitions.  The Port pays no property tax on land it currently owns and any and all land the Port purchases becomes tax exempt.
(9)    From the residents perspective, imagine looking at the Port’s website and seeing your property listed and illustrated as available for heavy industrial development! Although this was eventually corrected, how brash and bold, the Port has been advertising “ITS” holdings!
(10)The Port likes to say that they are “out of land” to offer to new tenants,  however, the “Port” in it’s zeal to spend taxpayer dollars, wants to purchase additional acreage, regardless of existing residential properties.  Without contacting or warning these taxpayers of the impending issues forth coming, why does the Port wish to create more problems for private property owners?
(11)From the collective residents perspective and that of taxpayers, why does the Port have the ability to purchase 250 acres, from an ex-commissioner of the Port, for $2,640,000.00?  Did the ex-commissioner have some foresight to purchase land 20 years ago?
(12)If the Port likes to tell us how great they are doing, why do they need taxpayer funded welfare?  To help keep their $14,000,000.00 building open?
The Robson residents certainly feel that jobs are important and in no way wish to discourage growth and progress in our area!  However, in Louisiana, where our new governor and legislature are telling us we are almost a billion dollars in debt, and taxes are undoubtedly heading for a raise, then why should any taxpayer be content to pay a penny more tax than they should have to?  In addition, why should the taxpayers be forced to pay for poor decision making?

Signed, the Residents of the
Village of Robson, Louisiana

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