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Letter To The Editor: MPC at odds with residents

MPC at odds with residents

Dear Editor,
Disgraceful and embarrassing are all the come to mind after watching the Bossier Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) ignore the inputs from thousands of affected residents who peacefully voiced their opposition to a Wal-Mart supercenter in north Bossier Parish.  I did not realize we were living in the remnants of the Soviet Union where the powerful and connected get to ram through whatever issue favors them without heeding any input from the people most impacted.

In short, Wal-Mart wants to open a new 200,000 square foot Supercenter just 3 miles north of its existing Supercenter on Airline Drive.  This new site is surrounded by no less than 7 subdivisions and 2 residential apartment complexes, and will sit on land that has been farmed for decades and is currently zoned Residential/Agricultural.

What is truly remarkable is that this process has been rigged from the beginning to allow our local government agencies the ability to push through this project over the near unanimous objections of local residents AND never have to face a vote of those same residents.  Let me explain.

The land sought by Wal-Mart was outside the city limits of Bossier about a mile from the city line up Airline Drive. Well the Bossier City Council panicked when they thought that a move by Wal-Mart to that site would cost the city sales tax revenue.

Well in order for the city to annex land it has to be contiguous to existing land inside the city, so the city council cooked up a scheme to annex a strip of land up one side of Airline, cross Airline at Wemple Rd. and then grab a big chuck of farmland for Wal-Mart. Think of a hatchet-shaped piece of land jutting out of the north edge of the city.  Of course Wal-Mart does not care about sales tax since the customer pays that, and if inside the city, Wal-Mart gets the benefit of city police, fire and utilities.

Not so much for the local residents who will have to endure the costs of a massive Supercenter.  So the City Council held two sessions on the annexation, “listened” to the residents of the area (none of whom live in the city, so they cannot vote in city council elections) and voted to annex the land for Wal-Mart.  Over 2,500 signed petitions opposing the annexation.

Now the MPC comes into play.  After the city annexed the land, the MPC still had to approve a change for residential/agricultural zoning to B-3 (general business).  After the first MPC meeting in May drew over 500 residents in opposition to the May meeting, they were so stunned they elected to table the meeting until Jun.  On Jun 13, the MPC met again, “listened” to the assembled residents, and promptly voted 7-1 to grant the rezoning request.

The most amazing aspect (besides the badgering of residents attempting to speak by a certain MPC member) was another member of the MPC claiming that because the land was part of the city, the final approval rested with the City Council.  This would be the same City Council that the affected residents have no say in electing and cannot vote out of office.

If I may summarize.  Two different government bodies voted to negatively impact local residents by subjecting them to increased traffic, noise, light pollution and crime along with substantially reduced home values without fear of voter actions because these residents cannot vote for the city council, and the MPC is an appointed board.

Josh Bowers
Bossier City, LA

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