Ruston aldermen approve ‘boundaries’ regarding potential alcohol sales, create new economic development district

Pictured from left to right are Ruston City Council members Carolyn Cage, Melanie Lewis, John Denny, Mayor Ronny Walker, Bruce Siegmund and Angela Mayfield during Monday’s meeting. (Photo by T. Scott Boatright)

By T. Scott Boatright

Ruston’s aldermen approved resolutions to create a new economic development district surrounding the impending construction of a Buc-ee’s franchise within city limits and made moves amending the city’s zoning code in regard to the alcohol sales amendment election set for March 25 during Monday’s monthly Council Meeting at City Hall.

Regarding the zoning code amendment ordinance, the approved changes will allow the city to regulate the number of bars (defined as establishments selling alcohol only) as well as where packaged liquor could be sold should all five election propositions be passed.

“The ordinance actually creates the Entertainment Overlay District providing for boundaries – I-20 on the north, Vienna and Bonner on the east, California on the south and Tech drive on the west,” said city attorney Bill Carter. “If the ordinance is adopted it will be considered a separate zoning district and will supersede other zoning districts.

“As well,  the ordinance also provides what we call separation requirements once a bar is approved, another bar cannot be approved closer than 1,320 feet. Also, drive-through sales from bars or package liquor stores are prohibited. 

“Additionally, any bar approved will do so under conditional use rules provided for in the zoning code. It goes through the Zoning Commission and the Zoning Commission can put any conditions that it seems fit to apply.” 

Walker said the ordinances were passed to try and control the number of bars within the city, if any at all, and to decide where packaged liquor can be sold and what size stores would do such selling.

“This is just the final piece of all those changes and I think the most important piece is the fact they’re all conditional use and have to come before the Planning and Zoning (Commission) each time,” Walker said.

Regarding the new economic development district, Carter called on Monroe attorney Wes Shafto, who has provided bond council to the city of Ruston, to explain the move to create an economic developed district to be named “Economic Development District No 2 of the city of Ruston, Louisiana” defining the boundaries thereof from which certain area local and potentially state sales and use tax increments will be determined and used to finance economic development projects within the district.

Ruston’s aldermen unanimously amended five resolutions dating as far back as 1993 to pave the way to introduce an ordinance

“Forty% of state tax revenues are allowed to go toward development like you’ve seen over the frontage roads and even repairs to overpasses have been attributable to this program,” Shafto said. 

Shafto the new district will bring any development surrounding the area off of Tarbutton Road that a Ruston Buc-ee’s will be constructed under those tax district regulations.

“It’s a win/win for both the city and the state,” Shafto said. “The state gives up a portion of its sales tax proportions but still keeps 60% of it. So it’s hugely beneficial to the state.”


Mayor Ronny Walker said former Mayor Hilda Taylor Perritt began this process back in the 1990s.

“It’s the best thing she did for our city because during the years since the establishment of this we’ve spent close to $50 million in roadwork for frontage roads, bridges, the new (Tarbutton) Interchange – all of that was made possible by the tax incremental district, so we’re very fortunate to have this in our city and to expand it into more areas,” Walker said. 

Ruston’s City Council approved the sale of property the city acquired from Campus Community Church in 2017 to Lifepoint Church of Ruston, Inc., in another unanimous vote.

“We have moved RPAR (Ruston Park and Recreation) offices to the grounds of the Indoor Sports Facility at the Sports Complex, so now the church the city acquired in 2017 is now available and no longer in use,” Carter said. “In a case of good timing, the city received an offer from Lifepoint Church, which desires to purchase the building and 6.5 acres of the approximate 13 acres the city purchased in 2017 to utilize as their own church facility.

“So we’ve negotiated a purchase prize of $915,000 that includes a deduction based on some damage done due to a busted water pipe that occurred during the freeze in December.”

Ruston’s City Council voted unanimously to approve that sale.

Among other business, Ruston’s aldermen:

  • Appointed Ward 4 alderman John Denny to the Lincoln Parish Sales and Use Tax Committee
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the city to enter into a contract relating to the Louisiana Tech Railroad Multi-Use Path/Trail project
  • Authorized the city to enter into a professional services agreement with BHA, Inc., for engineering services relating to a new relay and distribution heeded at the Tennessee Avenue Station
  • Authorized the city to enter into a contract in connection to $52,000 for restroom improvements for Russ-Town Industrial Park improvements
  • Approved a resolution describing actions that will be taken by the city in regards to the Municipal Water Pollution Prevention Environmental Audit Report in order to maintain compliance and prevent effluent violations per permit requirements constrained in the Louisiana water discharge permit system
  • Authorized the city to enter $1,136,000 contract related to the University Hills Water Improvement Project
  • Introduced an ordinance adopting amendments for the period of Oct. 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2022, to the annual budget of revenues and expenditures for that same fiscal year.