By Stacey Tinsley & Sean Green
With rezoning requests for businesses in front of subdivisions along Airline Drive bringing the issue of growth literally to residents’ doors, parish officials are also thinking about similar areas.
The past two Bossier Parish Police Jury meetings have seen rezoning requests to change plots of land from R-1 (residential) to B-1 (transition business). This has led the Bossier City-Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) to work with the jury on a proper plan of how to regulate and guide that type of growth.
However, jurors and MPC members are also concerned about future/developing roadways and how this same issue could affect those areas.
For example, with the expansion of Swan Lake Road, another major roadway in the parish will be ripe for developers.
“We’re working with the Police Jury right now to find a solution. We just aren’t sure what that solution will be at this time,” said Carlotta Askew-Brown, assistant director of the MPC.
It’s something the MPC is aware of and concerned about, even if they don’t currently have a hard plan in place.
“We want to be proactive. I would hate for people to pick pieces off Swan Lake and divide it up. It’s going to be a major traffic corridor and we need to have smart growth along that area,” Askew-Brown said.
The question to her is, how do they shape it?
“How do we want it to develop? Keep it residential? Put in design standards so we lessen the nuisance to homeowners? Mandate that it’s nothing above a B-1 so it’s the least intrusive?”
Concerned with the growing number of rezoning amendments that have been presented to the Police Jury recently, the jury has tasked the MPC with finding a solution on how to manage commercial development along Airline Drive.
“The jury currently has a policy that if a piece of property is in a legal plat subdivision and something changes like, splitting the lot or needing to rezone, the applicant has to get permission from all owners in the subdivision,” Askew-Brown explained. “That said, you can’t always get everyone to agree — a lot of people can’t agree on the same thing or don’t like change.”
This has led to several businesses’ requests getting shut down. It’s also forced them to get creative in their approach. She said she has received multiple inquiries about converting houses along Airline Drive.
“All the development is coming north and as things progress, it’s becoming more of an issue because land is priced so high it’s causing people to become creative. Businesses are looking at houses on major arterials and converting them. It’s similar to what you have on Old Minden Road,” she said.
Most recently, at the Sept. 19 Police Jury meeting, business owner Shawn Burch asked for a zoning amendment to change the zoning classification of 4711 Palmetto Rd. from R-1 to B-1 for a background screening business.
Director of the MPC Sam Marsiglia told the council that this request is similar to the one for a dentist’s office that the jury denied at their Sept. 5 meeting.
“We are going to see a lot more in the future,” said Marsiglia.
A developer had requested earlier this month a zoning amendment change of 5207 Airline Dr., just south of Swan Lake Spur in Willow Creek subdivision, from Residential to B-1.
Bossier Parish Attorney Patrick Jackson advised the jury, “The decision is pretty simple. I think what you all did last month is appropriate — let the Sam and Carlotta come back with some suggestions on how you can manage this process.”
The complexity of the issue has caused the Police Jury to send both requests back to the MPC in hopes of a resolution.