Actions of Bossier Public Officials in 2008 have cost the City of Bossier City big, big bucks – in excess of eighteen ($18) million dollars plus the transfer of 39.4 acres of prime real estate North of Century Link Center. How much more money was wasted in attorney fees (estimated to be four million dollars plus), court costs and administrative time of City employees is an unknown. But, suffice it to say, a very, very substantial amount.
The back story on this tale of repeated governmental missteps that border on political misconduct reads like a story from the Sopranos.
In 2003, The City of Bossier City was looking for a private company to develop the 24.80 acre tract fronting the east side of the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway as a multi-use development. U.L. Coleman, a Shreveport developer, expressed an interest in purchasing and developing this tract and began discussions with Bossier City officials. During these discussions, the City of Bossier committed to rezone the property from riverfront agricultural to riverfront development Coleman was assured by city officials that if they purchased the 24.80 acre tract and other adjacent tracts he would have curb cut access to the parkway to maximize the development. Based on these assurances, Coleman entered into a contract to purchase the tract for $1,430,000.00.
Coleman began planning the development and based on these continued assurances, Coleman entered into additional contacts to purchase adjacent tracts of land totaling 27.32 acres at a cost of $1,169,792.50. The total land acquisition cost for all tracts was $2,599,792.50.
In November 2005, the Metropolitan Planning Comission approved zoning for a planned unit development submitted by Coleman for all tracts totaling 52.12 acres which included curb cut access to Teague Parkway. In May 2006, the Coleman submitted a master plan for the planned unit development to the MPC. In June 2006, the MPC approved the planned unit development for all 52.12 acres subject to a traffic study to be submitted by Coleman.
On July 13, 2006 a traffic study was submitted by Coleman to the City which clearly showed there were no legitimate interest to deny curb cut access from the development to the parkway. However, the next day, Coleman received a letter from the MPC rescinding the zoning. Then, four (4) days later on July 18, 2006, the Bossier City Council introduced an ordinance preventing any curb cuts on the parkway unless the Council had provided specific approval. This ordinance was passed on August 1, 2006; on the same day the Council denied a curb cut for Coleman on the parkway.
A lawsuit was filed by Coleman against the Bossier MPC and the City of Bossier in December 2008. After four (4) years of contentious litigation, the City of Bossier caved in, recognizing the legal reality of the misdeeds of Bossier governmental agencies.
A comprehensive settlement between the City of Bossier and U.L. Coleman (and affiliates) was approved by the Bossier City Council on Tuesday, December 11. As part of the agreement the city will grant a curb cut and a median cut on Teague Parkway and commit $10.4 million for infrastructure in the mixed use development, and $1 million to develop a city park on city property north of the Century Link Center. The City will also construct an elevated pedestrian/bicycle walkway over the Teague Parkway in the vicinity of the proposed park and pay $6.7 million in damages and costs. Lastly, the City will transfer 39.4 acres of city property for use in expanding the mixed use development to more than 90 acres. (The property to be transferred is bordered by Walker Place, Barksdale Boulevard, Angelle Drive and Century Link Drive.)
In what can only be called a ridiculous journalism spin, a Bossier press release stated that, “The City of Bossier City is excited about the opportunity to facilitate and support this exciting new development in South Bossier and looks forward to the added quality of life it will bring to residents and visitors.”