The Central Arkansas Water Commission reacted cautiously yesterday to a draft land use plan for the watershed of its chief water supply, Lake Maumelle. Its own consultant is at work on how the plan might affect water quality in the future. Caution is in order.
Citizens Protecting Maumelle Watershed have analyzed the latest version of the proposed plan, now with significant amendments inserted by Deltic Timber, the major property owner in the watershed. The allowable development in the watershed has grown to mind-boggling levels. Where the plan first approved by CAW would have allowed 6,000 to 7,000 new homes in the entire 79,000-acre watershed in three counties, the latest draft would allow 36,433 homes (some 90,000 people when built out, or more people than now live in Fort Smith) in Pulaski County alone.
Barry Haas of the Citizens group sent their statement last night:
CITIZENS PROTECTING MAUMELLE WATERSHED RELEASE
The Lake Maumelle Watershed Management Plan that was unanimously adopted by the Central Arkansas Water (CAW) Board in February 2007 allowed about 6,000- 7,000 new houses to be built in the entire watershed covering 79,000 acres of land in Pulaski, Perry and Saline counties. Compare that to the minimum number of new houses that can potentially be built based on the draft Lake Maumelle Watershed Zoning Code currently under consideration by Pulaski County:
6,784 2 houses/acre maximum possible in the Village District (3,392 acres x 2 houses/acre)
16,942 2 houses/acre maximum possible in 40% of the Low Impact Residential Development District (8,471 acres x 2 houses/acre)
12,707 1 house/acre minimum possible in 60% of the Low Impact Residential Development District (12,707 acres x 1 house/acre)
36,433 Total minimum possible houses in Low Impact Residential Development & Village Districts combined
The above number of minimum possible new houses is based on the draft Zoning Code. I say minimum possible above in the 60% of Low Impact Residential Development District because using the Site Evaluation Tool, or SET, will allow more than 1 house per acre. The exact number of houses possible per acre or total for the 12,707 acres cannot be determined unless all the required SET inputs are known. Deltic and other developers will determine those SET inputs, not CAW or the public.
Since Pulaski Co. uses a multiplier of 2.5 people per household, that means 36,433 houses would equal 91,082 people potentially living in just the Pulaski Co. portion of the watershed. Compare that to the 86,209 people living in Fort Smith, 73,580 people living in Fayetteville, 69,797 living in Springdale or 67,263 living in Jonesboro according to the 2010 Census. Those are the four highest population cities in Arkansas behind Little Rock at #1.
The Pulaski County portion of the Lake Maumelle watershed could become the 2nd largest "city” by population in the entire state of Arkansas.