by Elliott Stonecipher

Esplanade developer Tim Larkin has repeatedly, over several months, tried to gain Shreveport City Council and/or Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) approval to build a roadway from his Esplanade development’s Bayou Pierre bridge into Flournoy-Lucas Road.  By virtue of a decisive Council vote deep into yesterday’s evening hours, that chapter in Larkin’s book was apparently completed.

In a surprise to some (the Finish 3132 Coalition not included) Larkin’s strongest ally – and only vote – on the Council was City Council District “D” Councilman Mike Corbin.  Corbin’s position opposes many if not most of his constituents since he represents the area in which residents are most endangered by the heavy truck traffic which would be removed with a completed 3132 Extension.  Throughout the marathon Council session, the only open support for Larkin’s roadway in the Extension’s likely future route came from Mayor Cedric Glover (from his hospital bed, we are told) and Corbin.  

Opting not to take any action which gave the developer yet more hope for a City Hall / Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) bail-out, the final 6-1 vote was for complete dismissal of the subject Larkin request for approval of his roadway.  The developer may now appeal to Caddo District Court, but the history of governmental action on his request works strongly against him in that venue, too.

The approval Larkin has long been seeking – wrapped this time in seemingly harmless language about a stipulation in a private contract – has been kicked back and forth between the Shreveport City Council and the city’s Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) for months.  The developer began this chain of events when he sought MPC approvals to greenlight construction of his roadway into Flournoy-Lucas, but MPC members rejected him in a 7-0 vote.  Larkin appealed to the City Council, but – led by Corbin – the Council remanded the issue back to the MPC, dictating, in actuality, that it find a solution which would satisfying the developer.  After many weeks of do-over work, the MPC voted again unanimously, this time 9-0, to uphold its original denial.  Larkin then returned to the City Council and yesterday’s action.

When all obfuscation is set aside, each such attempt would have led to Larkin’s construction of his roadway in the 36.99-acre tract surrounding the city-owned 16-acres at the intersection of the 3132 Extension and Flournoy-Lucas Road.  Larkin purchased the tract from Twelve Oaks developer Tony Janca in 2007, check this and learn more about the same.  Notwithstanding that Janca had agreed, officially, to “preserve” the 3132 corridor in that 36.99-acre tract, when he sold it to Larkin, no such corridor preservation was any part of the sale transaction.  Larkin thus “bought the rights” to the present pro-3132 Extension activity which bedevils his ultra-high-end development.

Satellite image of Shreveport showing 3132 in region leading to exit ramps on Flournoy Lucas
Click Image for LARGER view (3200X2386 pixels)

In a bizarre turn of events in yesterday / last night’s session, Glover – via audio piped-into the Council chambers from his Schumpert Hospital bed (we are told) – delivered an extended rant against the Coalition, particularly this writer, Willis-Knighton Health System (WKHS), and council members who oppose the mayor’s continuing 1000% “support” of Larkin and his development.  At one point, the rant managed to include references to Governor Jindal, Willis-Knighton’s temerity in paying for pro-3132 Extension ads in the daily newspaper, the outrage which is the Coalition’s website, and various other elements of a conspiracy he sees.  Meanwhile, the actual conspiracy to kill the 3132 Extension to benefit Larkin’s development has been directed by Glover and officials in his administration since early in his first mayoral term.

Larkin attorney Tom Arceneaux surprised many in the audience when he openly threatened the City Council to either grant Larkin’s request or plan for huge damage awards to the developer from the city’s coffers.  At one point, Councilwoman Rose McCulloch directly challenged Arceneaux’s tactic, asking the attorney is she as a individual faced a lawsuit.  Arceneaux, refusing to mitigate his threat, answered that he “had not yet made that determination.”  Other Council members quickly acknowledged the threats, then invited Arceneaux and his client to tee it up.

Notably, in the context of the Larkin / Arceneaux threat, the legal expenses for Finish 3132 Coalition litigation to protect the Extension route corridor and get the highway built are a cost to Willis-Knighton, though it seeks court protection only, i.e., no monetary damages of any kind from the City, any other government agency, any individual, or any business entity.

Finally, it is notable that the local news media, though present in Council chambers throughout the meeting to cover the dog park controversy, has yet to publish or broadcast any coverage of the meeting’s important 3132 Extension outcome.

Elliott Stonecipher

Elliott Stonecipher’s reports, essays and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest.  No compensation of any kind has been solicited or accepted for this work.  This work is protected, and no other use of it is permitted without the written consent of Mr. Stonecipher.