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MPC Mid-Month Meeting Features Presentation on Withheld Route

August 15, 2012

The mid-month meeting of the Shreveport’s Metropolitan Planning Commission today heard information from the Finish 3132 Coalition regarding developer Tim Larkin’s request for a roadway moving north to Flournoy Lucas Road in his Esplanade subdivision.

Speaking for the Coalition, Elliott Stonecipher presented information to the MPC. He acknowledged that he was aware that the issue would be discussed at MPC’s Sept. 5 meeting but that “we want to be very very sure that what we have learned in our work over the last week or ten days particularly is presented to the MPC before any action is taken.”

Stonecipher referred to an ad placed by the Coalition in local newspapers which showed a route created by Buchart Horn, the consultant for the Stage 0 Feasibility Study, that had been withheld from the public. He indicated that this can dramatically change what everyone’s perception of the route might be.

Through a series of public records requests the Coalition was presented with emails and a copy of the report that predated the one presented at NLCOG’s public meeting this month where route alternatives were presented.

DOTD had received the initial report and distributed it to appropriate agencies with the recommendations of the consultant. However, following that distribution, changes to the report [including removal of the preferred alternative] were made at the behest of DOTD officials. Although DOTD received the public records request for documents related to this subject, they failed to give the initial report. However, other agencies complying with the public records request did submit the report, which verified its existence. Copies of emails provided by DOTD’s attorneys in response to the public records request confirm that changes were being made that resulted in the report that the public saw earlier this month.

Stonecipher showed the route that moves south of Flournoy Lucas Road and curves sharply to the southeast, very close to the homes on the northwest corner of Twelve Oaks. He noted that this curve is called a “compound curve,” a term used in engineering. This type of curve has been the subject of lawsuits involving design of state highways. The route with this sharp curve takes a minimum amount of Esplanade property. He followed with a copy of the originally recommended route, which had been withheld by DOTD, a route that moved south from Flournoy Lucas, away from the Twelve Oaks subdivision before it gently curved toward the southeast. This route would require more of the Esplanade subdivision, including the area where a Larkin Development has already constructed a bridge.

He noted that a state official appeared to specifically protect this undeveloped property (Esplanade) at the expense of the homeowners at Twelve and that no mention had been made of paying anything to Twelve Oaks homeowners for the decline in the value of their property. [Stonecipher has also noted several times in the past that he is a homeowner in Twelve Oaks but that his home is not located in the area of Twelve Oaks that would be affected by what has been thought to be the preferred route.]

MPC member Bessie Smith asked Stonecipher for clarification about information: “Are you saying the DOTD is not giving you and the public the proper information?”

“Yes ma'am,” Stonecipher replied. “That's exactly what we're saying and when we made applicable records request on June 28th, they did not produce this route study.”

Stonecipher indicated that the Coalition is requesting that this route, created by the consultant at taxpayer expense, be considered as a proposed alternative for 3132. He reiterated that “we continue to be disappointed that the people of Shreveport who voted for this roadway have the promise made to them in 1996 kept. This is not about Mr. Larkin's roadway. This is about 3132.”

As for construction occurring on the property, Stonecipher sought to clarify information about what has appeared to be the foundation/construction of a roadway by Larkin on property. “We have watched the installation of the water lines in the 36.99 acres for months...water lines and fire hydrants for a road we are told is not being built.”

Stonecipher indicated that everyone knew that Chesapeake was putting in a pipeline but that the set-up of water lines and fire hydrants matched the roadway Larkin requested. "If he was not building a roadway, why are there waterlines there that follow the line of his roadway and hydrants placed for that roadway?”

An exhibit provided by the City Engineer was given to the MPC, showed the Larkin development plans and that it would not affect the extension of 3132 However, this was not requested by the MPC and was provided without reference to the withheld route. It is the city engineer, not the MPC, that approves the set-up of the water lines and hydrants, a path that mirrored the path of Larkin’s desired road.

Larkin sent a letter to the MPC on Aug. 9 stating that his “proposed road is not in the roadway or the right-of-way for any of the proposed routes.”

MPC staff requested information from Dr. Eric Kalivoda regarding whether “Mr. Larkin’s road and proposed development will impede the extension of 3132 as currently outlined in the recently released Stage 0 Study.”

Kalivoda replied that it was not DOTD’s responsibility nor was it appropriate for DOTD to determine that. Instead, he indicated that Larkin needs to show this. He further stated that “the alignment will not be final until the Environmental Assessment is completed.”

One issue, which has been discussed previously, is that the contract that requires Larkin to build a roadway that exits on Flournoy Lucas Road is one he made with the homeowners association on Railsback Road. “We worked for a year before we stumbled on this contract,” Stonecipher said. This contract was apparently designed to reduce traffic on Railsback Road that would affect homeowners there.

MPC member Lea Desmarteau asked if the Coalition discovered any additional routes that had been withheld. Stonecipher indicated that the route he showed is the only one that had been withheld.

MPC member Alan Young said he seemed to hear that the extension was a long way out, maybe 20 or 25 years, given the traffic on Flournoy Lucas and the economic situation in the state. Stonecipher acknowledged that he has heard these statements too and quoted a DOTD official who said not to believe anyone who says it will take a long time to do this. Stonecipher said that the process is being manipulated to get the public not to care. “We're going to tell the public exactly what happened and who did it and get the highway built as quickly as we can. That's all we can do,” he said.

Whitney Pesnell, Coalition attorney, reinforced the information in the email exchange between the MPC’s staff and DOTD and cautioned members that it would be “premature and at odds with what the MPC Is required to do to approve construction of Larkin's road.”

Tom Arcenaux, representing Larkin Development, said that they would present their case at the September meeting of MPC and contended that any delay of the project for stage one is “pure speculation” and that it could be lengthy and cause extensive damages.

Larkin asked for “the same request we have had on the previous four plats.” He said that he was willing to have the plat approval take place subject to the stipulations that require him to complete a road before houses are allowed to be built in each of the plats.” [Note: Remember that this stipulation was made in response to a contract Larkin made with Railsback property owners.]

Larkin said: “I don’t think in any of the corridors where they are proposing to go through, Willis-Knighton me or anybody else , I don't think anybody should be denied their plats based on speculation about where 3132 will be.”

MPC director Charles Kirkland asked Larkin if he advises people who purchase lots in Esplanade that they cannot build houses until this is settled. “Yes,” Larkin replied, “and there are a lot of people who just can’t wait for this road to be built.”

At the end of the meeting, the MPC approved Larkin’s request for a plat for property adjacent to plats that have already been approved.

Video Updates

May 27, 2014
Elliott Stonecipher, spokesperson for the Finish 3132 Coalition, offers an update on the project.
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(5/27/2014)

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