Potential development on Airline Drive paused to protect area homeowners

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By Jennyne Pinter and Sean Green, newsroom@bossierpress.com

A proposed development in a former residential area of Airline Drive has been paused to offer homeowners more protection.

The Bossier City Council voted at its regular June 5 meeting to continue the proposed rezoning of the property currently known as the Airline Park Estates on Airline Drive north of Brown Boulevard. 

The rezoning would change it from Residential and Business Office to General Business zone. This zoning allows for more extensive uses like restaurants with alcohol, big-box retail, and the like.

The petition is being brought to the city council by project manager Sean Diel who is representing the land majority-owner, Mr. Shihadeh.

“The plan is to rebuild the whole subdivision so that they can propose to a developer that entire site. So if they could get a developer with it being zoned then that developer would have to come in and buy all the houses. That’s the agreement that they have with the homeowners in there and they would all be bought out at the same time,” said Carlotta Brown, assistant director of the Bossier City-Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC).

“From what (Diel) tells us, that subdivision just hasn’t filled out over the past 20 years and the majority owner wants to make it commercial,” said Brown.

Residents attended the meeting and voiced their concerns about the rezoning.

Resident Mary Lucky said she was speaking on behalf of 50 percent of the residents. She said there was a modified affidavit signed with a contingency for the rezoning that says no development in any part of the area will be initiated before all property is sold. 

“I am concerned it may be parceled off and some residents may be exposed to the stress of construction. As long as we are not exposed to construction and the homes have been sold, we are in agreement for the change,” she said. 

Resident Amanda Juneau said she was under the impression that all of the lots would be sold all at once as a single development.

“I wouldn’t want to be living there and thxere be a liquor store next to me,” Juneau said.

Diel told the council that the affidavit signed is conditional upon finding one buyer for the full development. 

“I have not changed my efforts or intentions, all I have is my word. Our intentions are to comply with what I agreed to do,” he said.

MPC Director Sam Marsigilia told the council that the city cannot enforce that agreement as it is a private agreement. 

However, Marsiglia said a provision in the proposed amended Unified Development Code (UDC) would protect the residents, in that a usage change would require another public hearing and approval. 

However, the amended UDC still needs to be voted on by the council.

Therefore, the item was continued until the UDC can be approved.

“It would give them a measure of protection,” said Marsiglia. 

The amended UDC is set to be up for approval the first city council meeting in July.