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Shreveport City Council Rejects Larkin Appeal

October 10, 2012

After more than two and a half hours of testimony, debate and apparent threats of legal action, the Shreveport City council rejected Esplanade developer Timothy Larkin’s appeal of a Metropolitan Planning Commission decision. Larkin appealed the September 5, 2012, MPC decision. That unanimous decision affirmed an earlier MPC decision not to allow Larkin to build a permanent road from his development to Flournoy Lucas Road, pending a decision about the route of the 3132 extension. Finish 3132 Coalition spokesman Elliott Stonecipher warned the council that the “the roadway extinguishes any chance of 3132 being built” from Flournoy Lucas Road to the Caddo Bossier Port.

Larkin presented his case to the Council, claiming that both his development and the 3132 Extension could coexist. Larkin told the council his companies had invested so much time, effort and money in his project that “the main thing we need to convey to you is we don’t have the option to delay or stop our obligations.” Councilman Joe Shyne, however, reminded Larkin “it’s not too late to stop anything. You can stop. People understand 3132 is more important than any development.”

At the same, time Larkin’s attorney, Tom Arceneaux, appeared to threaten the council with legal action if Larkin was unable to build his road. Arceneaux said any delay could result in the city being liable for Larkin’s losses since the city was effectively “taking his property.” When asked by Councilwoman Rose McCulloch if that meant that the city council members would be financially responsible for the losses, Arceneaux told her he had not decided whether or not to sue each council member. When Arceneaux told McCulloch he didn’t threaten her, many in the audience laughed and even some council members chuckled.

Mayor Cedric Glover, a supporter of Esplanade and Larkin, spoke via Skype from his hospital bed where he is recuperating from an injury due to a fall. He heatedly accused the Finish 3132 Coaliton and its spokesmen of “misrepresentation, obfuscation, and clouding the issue with half truths.” Glover maintained the development and the 3132 extension project weren’t mutually exclusive. He told the council it was the 3132 Coalition and Willis-Knighton Health System that were in a conspiracy to thwart Larkin’s development, not himself, Larkin, the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (the organization that Glover got to “rescind the preferred 3132 corridor” in April, 2011), and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. The transportation department has apparently lost many of the public comments made at a February public meeting on the route for 3132’s extension and has been suspected of moving the original route of 3132 to protect the Esplanade Development at the expense of the existing Twelve Oaks subdivision.

The attorney for Willis-Knighton Health System, Whitney Pesnell, told the council that Larkin refused to negotiate a compromise that would protect the 3132 extension as well as allow his development. Pesnell asked the council to dismiss the appeal because it was flawed and indicated that Larkin never filed a new or revised application with the MPC.

Councilman Joe Shyne, speaking against the appeal, said if Larkin stood to lose money (estimated to be some $12 million worth of improvements), it was because he went ahead with the development.
Shyne say Larkin knew he might not be able to fulfill a 2008 agreement made with the Railsback Homeowners Association. That agreement was incorporated into the ordinance allowing the development and says no building permits for homes in the subdivision can be issued until there is a permanent road and access onto Flournoy Lucas Road (taking traffic away from the Railsback neighborhood). Shyne says Larkin has “no one to blame but himself since he made the improvements at his own expense and risk.”

In the end, by a vote of six to one, the council dismissed Larkin’s appeal. Only District D councilman Michael Corbin opposed dismissing the appeal.

It’s unclear now whether or not Larkin can continue his appeal to a state district court. At any rate, for the time-being, there will be no permanent road constructed in the area that DOTD’s engineering consultants indicated was the most suitable route for Louisiana Highway 3132. That most suitable route was withheld from the stage 0 report issued to the public this summer.

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