A Sign of the Times in Ruston

It was all about signs at last night’s meeting of Ruston’s Board of Aldermen – specifically, the size and placement of signs on a business wanting to relocate to downtown.

Brandon Crume’s RE/MAX Results Realty bought the property located at 201 North Trenton and is remodeling it to suit his needs. Crume’s family has been in the local property and real estate business for many years.

Formerly, the location was a restaurant.

Crume wanted to install a 32 ft/sq sign hanging over the sidewalk that is fashioned in the familiar RE/MAX balloon logo. According to the Planning and Zoning department, a 16 ft/sq sign is the largest allowed.

The larger sign, said Crume, is necessary to attract the attention of motorists.

Crume’s attorney, Chris Bowman, noted that North Trenton is a major U. S. Highway.

“I don’t think that the council can ignore that this is a main US highway thoroughfare that you have 17 thousand cars passing on every day,” said Bowman. He added, “Certainly owners of businesses should be allowed to advertise to that market.”

Planning Administrator Pat Doanne said such a large sign is not pedestrian oriented, which is what downtown is geared toward.

Said Doanne, “Our historic downtown has a much lower speed limit and its intended to be pedestrian oriented rather than automobile oriented.”

Long-time Ruston businessman Greg McCarter made perhaps the most cogent point when he noted that he has at times considered moving his business downtown, but after trying to help Crume on this issue, he now has second thoughts about such a move.

Said McCarter, “I’ve entertained the idea many times myself of moving my office downtown.” He added, “I don’t think under the restrictions that have been placed here, that my insurance/investment company would meet any of the codes to move downtown.”

The board of aldermen voted unanimously to uphold planning and zonning’s recommendation to allow a conditional use permit for the business, but limit sign size to 16 ft/sq.

Some Commentary

Last night’s meeting brought into sharp relief the age-old conflict between private property rights and zoning law. Zoning is land use planning that designates permitted uses of land based on mapped zones which separate one set of land uses from another. Zoning may regulate use, building height, lot coverage, and similar characteristics, or some combination of these.

It basically allows government to tell a property owner what he can and can’t do with his own property.

The trade-off for loss of freedom is what proponents claim is an esthetically developed area that looks pleasing or has some historic value. Often these areas are little more than the dreams of those who have no clue as to how wealth and prosperity are created, and usually resemble the fanciful renderings seen on the pages of Architectural Digest. Proponents visualize a downtown that is circa 1954, with everyone walking or using public transportation and the use of automobiles is minimized – something that will never be again, no matter how hard the collectivists wish it to be.

Ruston 21 is this area’s version of that utopia.

Also, contrast yesterday afternoon’s press conference announcing a new business coming to Ruston that was attended by numerous political dignitaries.

The new business is showered with incentives, grants, and glowing press coverage heralding its arrival.

The established Ruston business is encumbered with endless red tape just to remodel a building and put up a sign.

10 Responses to “A Sign of the Times in Ruston”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    “The trade-off for loss of freedom is what proponents claim is an esthetically developed area that looks pleasing or has some historic value. Often these areas are little more than the dreams of those who have no clue as to how wealth and prosperity are created, and usually resemble the fanciful renderings seen on the pages of Architectural Digest. Proponents visualize a downtown that is circa 1954, with everyone walking or using public transportation and the use of automobiles is minimized – something that will never be again, no matter how hard the collectivists wish it to be.”

    Much, too much hyperbole. You can do better than that.

  2. TEA_Party_Voter Says:

    The progressive liberals may wish to live the fantasy that people will walk around downtown Ruston, but the reality is that there is nothing in downtown Ruston worth a walk! There are very few retail outlets that might form a cohesive shopping experience, and the restaurants are located way over near the railroad overpass. The idyllic downtown experience was captured decades ago in the shopping mall concept which group businesses together under a covered facade that allowed one to park and enjoy the experience in air conditioned comfort. These malls were located away from downtown areas to facilitate their access and the required parking. That’s the trouble with progressive liberals – despite taking the label “progressive,” they’re all stuck in the past trying to recapture some of their supposed good old days! Things will always change and no amount of progressive liberal zoning will stop that. Towns that aren’t allowed to grow and change to meet their inhabitants’ needs eventually wither and die. Look at all the little farming towns between Winnsboro and Ferriday. The reason property blights are never removed and renovated is because zoning laws prevent the owners from making the improvements they wish in their property. Houston has rejected zoning laws numerous times as Texans believe strongly in property rights. If progressive liberals want to keep things as they remember, they should pony up the money to buy these properties!

  3. GothicArc Says:

    That “idyllic downtown experience” was created by a combination of a legacy of no transportation, causing businesses to be concentrated around the railroad depot; and no money. People have voted: if they have the means they are going to own an automobile and they are going to drive it. Rather than running businesses off or making it hard for them, to implement some sort of utopian vision of what they want Ruston to look like, Ruston should be thankful the downtown hasn’t already been abandoned, and should be creating incentives for businesses to locate there; after all, they are the reason it was built in th efirst place. What is a ‘downtown’ without real businesses?

  4. Observable_Tyranny Says:

    This is what soft forms of tyranny look like. Educate yourselves on the foundation of comprehensive planning like Ruston 21.

    What is Agenda 21 (aka Sustainable Developement, Comprehensive Planning, Smart Growth, etc.)?

    Educational Websites:

    http://www.freedomadvocates.org/
    http://www.sovereignty.net/p/sd/sd-transform.html

    United Nations Agenda 21 Document:

    http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/

    Local Agenda 21 (Ch. 28 of UN Agenda 21):

    http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_28.shtml

    Ruston 21 is Local Agenda 21:

    http://www.ruston.org/Ruston21/

    Read the Ruston 21 pdf and the news articles regarding Ruston 21 and note all the similarities.

  5. The Jet Says:

    I’m afraid you guys are behind the curve. Massive enclosed shopping malls and big box strips surrounded by oceans of asphalt and endless suburbia, that is so 1980s. The trend now is urban renewal and New Urbanism. We’re running out of land, and some more forward-thinking among us (and some of us ARE conservatives) would like to see communities save and re-develop their existing, historic cores rather than continue to be hollowed out till they’re empty and dead.

    Visit other thriving college towns across the South. Oxford, Mississippi. Auburn, Alabama. Murfreesboro, Tenn. heck, go to Natchitoches, Minden, or St. Francisville, all of whom have done well at preserving their historic downtowns. There is no reason Ruston cannot do what they’ve done. But to get there means a little common sense, agreed upon by the community zoning and building codes. Within reason, of course. But thats why we have meetings, to have the necessary give-and-take.

    Does that include regulating sign size? Maybe. That’s not for me to decide, but the people of Ruston.

    • TEA_Party_Voter Says:

      Ruston is centered in a rural area and has never been threatened with an enclosed mall. The college makes up a significant portion of Ruston residents when LA Tech is in session. As a rural area, Walmart is the biggest shopping experience around, and they’re located out on the I-20 Service Road corridor along with a strip mall whose occupancy shifts with the economy. Ruston and Lincoln Parish are not running out of land and there is plenty of space available to spread out. The population of Lincoln Parish has remained steady for the last 40 years. Businesses moved out of downtown partly because of the I-20 corridor location and partly because Walmart’s arrival back in the 1970s which forced a lot of changes for the better. The numbers just aren’t there to support either an enclosed mall or a vibrant downtown. College kids are cheap and rural residents aren’t trendy. It’s been all we could do to lure a few businesses such as Lowes to Ruston so we don’t have to drive to Monroe. The college towns you mention as having revitalized downtowns all have some type of area industry to augment support for the community. Ruston has two colleges and a bunch of farmers, which is not a broad enough base to draw on. I’ve seen a number of attempts to revitalize downtown Ruston that have all fizzled after wasting vast sums. It’s been tried several times and failed each time. Ruston is a very wealthy community, but the wealthy here prefer to do their philandering somewhere else out of their neighbors’ sight.

  6. GothicArc Says:

    Who in heck said we are running out of land? Every American could live in Texas with a population density which would be pretty normal.
    What America has run out of is common sense.

  7. Lance Ward Says:

    Ruston is so smart in their planning that they didn’t even buy the website Ruston21.org. We did. I would invite any of you opposed to this planning to contact us through the site and be a contributor, editor, planner. The point would be to come up first when the subject Ruston21″ is searched.

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