By a 4 to 1 vote, a conditional use permit for the New Living Word School was approved by Ruston’s Board of Aldermen at last night’s meeting. The permit will allow the school, located at 1900 West Barnett Springs Avenue, to begin construction of a 12 thousand ft/sq building in which students will be housed. Temporary classroom buildings will be used in the interim.
Voting no was District 5′s Marie Riggs, with all the others voting yes: Glenda Howard (District 1), Elmore Mayfield (District 2), Jedd Lewis (District 3), and Jim Pearce (District 4). The motion to approve recommendations by Ruston’s Planning and Zoning Commission was made by Howard and seconded by Mayfield.
See here the P & Z recommendations and the permit application.
Earlier in the meeting, Riggs had tried to amend P & Z’s recommendations by requiring the entire church/school property be surrounded by fencing to prevent errant school children from wandering into the heavily trafficked street.
Said Riggs, “My constituents – I’ve had a number of calls about fencing in the school property for the protection of the students, as well as protection of the motorists.”
The church’s pastor Jerry Baldwin countered that such a requirement would be a first for any school or church in the city, and that such a fence was not needed.
Said Baldwin, “I’m requesting a variance in that regard, because from my perspective a fence serves no purpose for us. We’d rather spend the money trying to help the kids, rather than waste the money putting up a fence that would serve no purpose.”
Riggs’ motion to amend the proposal died for lack of a second.
Other discussion from the board members touched on the possibility of a study by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).
District 3′s Jedd Lewis asked P & Z’s Jim Hall if such a study had been done, to which Hall said not to his knowledge.
Said Hall, “As far as I know, there’s been no traffic study. That’s a DOTD street, and they would require that.”
State Senator Rick Gallot, a member of the church, spoke up to say that any such study would probably not happen very quickly, and did not have any bearing on the zoning issue that was being discussed.
One area resident expressed concern about the possibility of a football field in the future, and its associated noise and activity. Several audience members said no such plans for a football field were contemplated.
However, Morning Paper publisher John Hays noted that recruitment brochures that the school had distributed to prospective students did indeed mention a football program in the school’s future.