BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A lawsuit over who gets to make the final decision on whether land in North Bossier will be rezoned to make way for a new Walmart has been dismissed.
The Bossier City Council was set to vote in early August on the Metropolitan Planning Commission's recommendation to approve the rezoning, but a lawsuit filed last week against Bossier MPC Director Sam Marsiglia by Bossier attorney and resident Whitley Graves argued that allowing the council to make a final decision is in violation of the MPC and Louisiana law.
The suit claimed it would cause "irreparable harm to plaintiff and the other citizens of Bossier Parish."
Graves believes the Bossier Parish Police Jury should have the final say on approving or denying the MPC's recommendation to change the zoning.
At least a dozen North Bossier residents gathered to watch the hearing at the Bossier Parish Courthouse in Benton Wednesday morning, over which Bossier District Judge Michael Craig presided.
The hearing got under way just before Noon. Attorney Neil Erwin, representing Marsiglia, asked Judge Craig to dismiss the case. Irwin argued the decision to send the recommendation to the council was not up to Marsiglia, but required by law.
In response, Graves argued that the MPC held hearings before the city annexation took place.
"These shenanigans shouldn't be pulled. Do it the proper way," said Graves.
Graves says had the city not de-annexed the land last Fall, this recommendation would 100% be the city's decision, but that's not the case.
Judge Craig said he understood Graves' argument, but had issues with the assertion that the Bossier Parish Police Jury should make a decision on property that is not theirs.
Ultimately, Judge Craig said he does believe the BPPJ should have a say in recommendation, but the mandamus suit heard today wasn't the way to do it. "The judge evidently ruled this is the wrong type of lawsuit to be filed, that there were other avenues available other than filing the mandamus, I disagree," said Graves, who explained according to state law title 33, the police jury should have the final say when zoning becomes less restrictive on land that has been annexed in. Anything that happens like that within two years of annexation has to have the approval of the police jury."
An MPC hearing is set for August 8 to review changes to the site plan recently submitted by Walmart. The MPC has to approve of the landscaping and site plan changes before it can go to the council.
Graves says he doesn't think they will appeal the judge's ruling. "We will let it stand, we will let it take its course and make sure everything is done in the proper way."
Marsiglia declined to comment on the outcome of the hearing.