City Exercises Zoning Authority on Property Located Outside City Limits

After about 45 minutes of debate and discussion, Ruston’s Board of Aldermen last night applied the city’s zoning codes on property that is not within the City of Ruston’s corporate limits.

Hemphill, LLC, a developer of cell tower sites, will be constructing a cell tower for use by Verizon and others on McAllister Street, south and east of the city limits. The proposed tower is several hundred feet from an existing tower located on the same street.

Ralph Winegarden of Faulk & Foster realtors, representing Hemphill, said they only wanted to buy electrical power for the tower and were confused why zoning was applicable.

“City power for us is the most economical option. We were advised to go through the conditional use permit process as part of the power approval process. This is a little confusing to us, because section 1.4 of the Ruston Zoning Code itself specifically indicates the ordinance does not apply outside the city limits. Nevertheless, we did proceed as directed to file the conditional use permit and variances as needed,” he said.

William Bradford, a Shreveport attorney representing Hemphill, noted that the city’s zoning board was but a recommending body for the city council, and the council had the final say. He also noted the city’s zoning board was attempting to govern outside the city limits.

Said Bradford, “This is a question not about zoning, but about utilities. We were forced to file a conditional use permit, but we are requesting only for the purposes of receiving power to our tower.”

Joel Colvin, representing several residents that live on McAllister, said they were not in favor of the location, as it was close to an existing tower.

Frank Cordaro, who owns the property in question, said that new tower was needed to meet the anticipated demand likely with the city’s sports complex.

Resident Lisa Corbin said the new tower would be in her front yard, and it wasn’t needed. Another speaker presented a petition that opposed the tower.

City Attorney Bill Carter said it made sense to apply the zoning code to the facility, as there was a city ordinance that allowed conditions to developments outside the city, if city utilities are provided.

Both Angela Mayfield (Ward 2) and Carolyn Cage (Ward 1) opposed the tower, after hearing from their constituents, they said.

Ward 5’s Bruce Seigmund asked would Hemphill build the tower regardless of what the city did, and if so how would they obtain power. Winegarden said they would either install a generator, contract with Entergy, or install solar panels.

Several residents on McAllister are connected to Ruston’s power system, even though the property is outside city limits.

When the vote for the use permit was made, Seigmund, Pearce and Jedd Lewis voted for, and Mayfield and Cage voted no.

The motion was made with conditions – a one year deadline to begin the project , appropriate approval from the city’s airport, and construction as per the submitted site plan.

A separate resolution was approved by the same vote to supply power for the project.

Earlier in the meeting an ordinance was approved that will allow a wholesale liquor distributor to locate in Ruston. The distributor will supply local restaurants and bars, it was said.

12 Responses to “City Exercises Zoning Authority on Property Located Outside City Limits”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    “We do as we please!”

  2. Anonymous Says:

    So the public—the ones affected most by the unsightly placement of the tower—spoke through their representative aldermen. The other aldermen voted for this anyway? Because it was in whose best interests?

    Am I understanding this correctly?

    Would this railroading have taken place if the opposing population had not been overwhelmingly minority? Just a question. Now let the hate from the white supremacists spew forth and know that I doth not care.

    Typical day in the neighborhood. Walker’s got his hands in all kinds of pies. Next thing you know he’s going to try and take over the entire parish because he needs the money. Mark my words.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Railroading seems to be the way things are done in this administration. Council votes the way they are told, as a rule. And the outcome usually benefits city finances – not always the citizens.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I think y’all missed what really happened. Tower was coming no matter what because the property is in the parish not the city. There was nothing the zoning committee could do about the cell tower. The issue was weather or not they would allow the company building the tower to tie into the city’s power line. So if the tower is going to be built no matter what why wouldn’t the city make money off selling the power to them.

    • Anonymous Says:

      I think you mean whether

    • Anonymous Says:

      Why did Mayfield and Cage think they were voting on the placement of the tower? That’s the way it’s presented in the article…

      • Anonymous Says:

        Sorry…new to Ruston politics.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Because it went thru the zoning committee. The zoning board is the proper channel for extending city utilities and easements beyond the city limits. If you notice in the coverage there is a comment by the attorney representing the tower company questioning why it’s even necessary to go before the board.

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