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Washington County Planning Board tables commercial project near Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE -- Washington County Planning Board members on Thursday tabled request for a permit to build and lease commercial space on 19 acres off Old Wire Road about a mile outside Fayetteville.

"We're talking about an agricultural, low-occupancy, residential area," said Daryl Yerton, board member. "(The arrangement) is good for the tenant. It's good for the landlord. It's very cumbersome on the rest of the community."

In other business

• The Washington County Planning Board approved permits for a cell tower near Cincinnati and a recreational camper resort, called Flamingo Springs Trailer Resort, near Prairie Grove. Flamingo Springs was also approved for a preliminary large-scale development.

• The board approved a preliminary development request for a wedding chapel on Habberton Road. The chapel’s permit was previously approved, but expired.

• The board approved a development request from Eastside Self Storage on East Huntsville Road, and a request for Eastern Parks Subdivision, 4436 E. Mission Blvd.

Source: Staff report

The Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustments didn't have enough votes to deny a permit for Old Wire Services & Recreational Facilities and decided to table it.

Patrick Tobin has been working with planning staff for months on a proposal to build about 10 commercial or recreational buildings in phases on his property at 4012 N. Old Wire Road, near where East Joyce Boulevard meets North Old Wire Road.

The property is near multiple businesses, planning staff said, but neighbors said it's still residential. Two homes are across from the proposed site, according to an online map, and the property is zoned for agriculture and single-family housing uses.

Other use requires a permit. The board tabled a similar request by Tobin in September.

On Thursday, several neighboring property owners objected to the proposal.

"I just believe this land wasn't meant for any type of commercial buildings," said Christina Gall, who owns about 10 acres across from the site. "Joyce is busy, yeah, but we are on Old Wire -- it's a two-lane country road regardless."

Gall was among 13 residents who sent the Planning Department objections. One person supported the project, records show. Fayetteville also sent a letter raising concerns about traffic, runoff pollution and keeping the area residential.

The property is in the city's planning area but in county jurisdiction.

Businesses in the area look like homes, Gall said. Residents said they remain wary of what the buildings will look like, but attorney J.R. Carroll, representing Tobin, said the buildings will be well-designed.

"We're going to reveal a nice product," he said.

Tobin wants to build, then lease space to businesses, according to documents. Attorney Robert Rhoads, who represents some neighbors, said the project is too vague.

Typically, in the planning process, the board approves specific buildings with specific uses, board members said.

"We don't have a business plan," member Kenley Haley said. "It's just too uncertain to me."

The planning process for the project was unique but still works, Director Jim Kimbrough said. As part of the planning process, planning staff used calculations provided by the Arkansas Department of Health to develop what the septic system can handle, said Sita Nanthavong, planner.

Staff also developed a lengthy list of restrictions for the project, including excluding certain business types. The project is meant to provide affordable space to businesses, Nanthavong said. Kimbrough said the plan was also meant to allow the owner to use his property while reducing neighbors' concerns.

The permit is only one step in the process, staff said. The permit would hinge on whether the property owner can get an easement to divert water from his property through land owned by the University of Arkansas. Also, if approved, the project would require Quorum Court ratification, then go through the development process.

That process would develop more specifics about the project, Kimbrough said.

NW News on 01/12/2018

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