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Too Much Annexation? - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Too Much Annexation?

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Shreveport's growing, but it's just geographically. Despite decades of annexation, the city has failed to grow the population which continues to hover around 200,000.  

Tuesday, September 24th, Shreveport's City Council voted to approve the annexation of the St. Andrew's upscale housing development in southeast Shreveport. With already stressed city services such as streets and water and sewer pipes, not to mention the added burden on police and fire departments, can the city handle another new neighborhood?

City Council Chairman Michael Corbin says although the city should be mindful of over-annexation, but believes city government can accommodate this latest development.

"Do we want to continue to annex and annex and annex? No, we don't, because we have far more square miles in a city than our population needs. The developer at his expense had to run water and sewer lines a pretty lengthy way down to Southern Loop."

And it's not just water and sewer, the developer is responsible for -- it's streets, storm drains and sidewalks. Because everything is so new, the city won't be paying much for maintenance. Also, with homes starting at $500,000 dollars, annexation supporters note that once St. Andrew's is complete and all homes have been purchased, it's expected to bring in more than $104,000 dollars a year in property taxes.

"We feel like the property taxes that will be gained from this development should easily offset the cost of services," Corbin said.

Jeff Everson is a city councilman who represents some of Shreveport's more established neighborhoods, such as Highland and Fairfield. He was the only "no" vote on the St. Andrew's annexation and cites the city's recently adopted Shreveport Caddo Master Plan for 2030.

"One of the reasons that we have the high property tax, one of the reasons that we have a lot of the problems that are identified in the master plan, is our continued practice of building new areas and overlooking the maintenance of the ones that we have already," the District B councilman said.

Ron Norwood, a City Engineer, said they've had a plan in place since 2005 to address the kind of area growth we're seeing in the city. In 2005 the city allotted $26 million worth of projects to bring water from West Shreveport to the Southern Shreveport area. But Norwood cautions, "For our size city, we cover a large area, a large area, and that could be a strain on your infrastructure."

A decade-by-decade map of the city of Shreveport shows the sprawling, 
"leapfrog" development patterns cited by the Master Plan that have helped siphon re-investment away from existing neighborhoods. The Master Plan oversight office added its own caution about the St. Andrew's annexation: "The Master Plan has identified Shreveport's annexation history and practices as a primary reason for escalating costs and 
declining levels of service, the deteriorating condition of the 
City's infrastructure, inner city decline ... the Master Plan recommends re-examining the City's 
annexation practices and cautions against expanding'' the city's boundaries.
  
St. Andrew's has Southern Trace to its southeast and Bert Kouns and I-49 to its northwest. That means the development is filling in a donut hole in the city map, making this annexation and growth, more reasonable, said developer Witt Caruthers.

"While I'm concerned about sprawl and strain to our infrastructure, I think it's important for the city to find holes like this, where infrastructure is in place and fill in holes in those gaps."

St Andrews has already started work on it's first home on the property. It will have a little more than 50 lots for homes on more than 80 acres. For more information on St. Andrews, visit their web site www.StAndrewsShreveport.com or call Witt Caruthers at 318.453.1600.

To read more on the St. Andrews Annexation Ordinance and see The Master Plan's comments on the annexation, visit http://la-shreveport.civicplus.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/1007?fileID=955

For a map of St. Andrews, visit http://la-shreveport.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/1504

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