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Planned unit development draws concerns

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Developer Jott Delcambre said he believes he can successfully answer public concerns about duplexes he wants to build on South Barnett Spring Street and move forward with the project.

Delcambre’s comments came after a public hearing held Monday by the Ruston’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Delcambre’s application for conceptual approval of the proposed planned united development.

Delcambre wants to construct 15 two-bedroom, two-bath duplexes on what is now vacant land on the east side of South Barnett Springs Street across from 954 South Barnett Springs. The planned unit development, or PUD, would feature three buildings of five duplexes each.

A PUD allows a developer more flexibility in lot sizes and uses than in traditional development categories. PUDs must also include some common space. Delcambre is proposing a pavilion and walking trail.

The conceptual approval process is optional and designed to give developers both public and commission input early in a project’s life. Developers typically use the feedback to decide if they wish to proceed with their project. No votes are taken during the conceptual approval hearing.

“I just want your input and your support,” Delcambre told the panel. “I want the support of my neighbors.”

Resident Mickey Mays lives near the 8.42-acre site upon which Delcambre wants to build.

Mays said he doesn’t object to apartments but is concerned about motorists’ line of sight because the property sits in a curve on a heavily trafficked street.

“We do have bookends of the worst intersections in this parish on this road,” Mays said.

South Barnett Springs intersects with U.S. Highway 80 to the south and West Alabama Avenue at Tarbutton Road to the north.

Mays also asked for more than the required two parking places per unit. Delcambre said he sees no problem with upping the number of spaces.

Neighbor Robert Tibbet, who lives on South Barnett Springs but just outside the city limits, said he’s concerned about noise and the property his family owns will become landlocked.

“Before ya’ll cut us off, we got land behind there we don’t have no right of way to,” Tibbet said.

The land Delcambre has an option to buy is part of a larger parcel. Realtor Dicky Nealy, who’s working with Delcambre on the PUD, suggested perhaps the landowner would consider selling other acreage for a right to way.

Tibbet said he’d rather see homes built than apartments.

“We need homes. We don’t need more apartments, for the noise, for the safety, for the crime,” he said.

Though the commission offered no formal feedback, Commissioner Otha Anders urged Delcambre to “listen carefully to the input, to the reactions.”

Following the meeting, Delcambre said even though he now knows to expect some opposition, he plans to proceed.

“We’re going to go forward with the engineering and come back in a few months to give (the commission) something to vote on,” he said.

The PUD is a multi-step process that includes public hearings before the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Aldermen. It’s not until near the end of the process that the property Delcambre wants would be rezoned from large-lot single family residential to a PUD.

In other action, commissioners approved three mobile vending permits:

• James Bonner’s request to open a barbecue and catfish trailer at the corner of East California Avenue and South Farmerville Street.

• Michael Zaunbrecker’s request to open a shrimp and crawfish vending trailer on Farmerville Highway.

• Parker Temple’s request to open a flavored ice vending trailer at the U Pak It on Cooktown Road.

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