by Max Brantley
You're up. I'm off. Final words:
* SCHOOL NIGHT: Because of my conflict, I've talked to several people who promise to update me on tonight's charter/voucher school pep rally at Philander Smith. I'll pass their observations along as I'm able. Bottom line: the inclusion of Little Rock School Superintendent Morris Holmes and state Rep. John Walker markedly changed the direction of the meeting. They resisted the notion that all public schools have failed and said choice had become a euphemism for division and exclusion of the neediest kids.
* OCCUPY NORTHWEST ARKANSAS: ONWA promises a demonstration outside Herman Cain's appearance in Springdale Thursday. Says an e-mail from Abel Tomlinson: "We will not only be protesting the policies that Herman Cain represents, but more importantly the control of elections by corporations and their owners."
* RADIO MOGULS: Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson is getting into the radio business in Saline County with Grant Merrill. Merrill, who lives in Bryant, and Hutchinson, who represents Saline County have formed Saline River Media to buy KEWI-AM and also plan to purchase an FM signal for the station.
* CLEAN WATER WATCH: The Pulaski County Planning Board delayed a vote today on a land use plan for the Lake Maumelle watershed heavily revised to favor heavy development by Deltic Timber. The Deltic/Koch billionaires/American for Prosperity lobby turned out to protest water supply protection at the public hearing. The lake's clean now, they argue, why worry if 10,000 homes are someday added to the watershed, each with effluvia from lawn mowers, cars, pets and other polluters rolling downhill? Barry Haas of the group working to protect Lake Maumelle was there and he reports:
I attended this afternoon's Pulaski County Planning Board public hearing re the proposed Lake Maumelle Watershed Zoning Code. It was similar in many ways to the September 27 public hearing that was held at Wingfield UMC out Highway 10. The main difference is today's hearing was held by the Planning Board, 8 members of which were present, while the September 27 public hearing was held by Van McClendon, director of Pulaski Co. Planning and Development, and Wallace Roberts Todd, the planning consultant hired by Pulaski Co. Both were intended to hear comments from the public.
At the start of today's public hearing the Planning Board unanimously passed a motion that they did not intend to vote on the Zoning Code today. That was the only thing that pleased both sides. Comments were limited to 3 minutes per speaker.
At today's public hearing several early speakers who are opposed to any zoning or land use plan wanted to ask questions, most of which have been answered long ago. But those questioners simply refuse to accept any answer that isn't to their liking. The public hearing acting chair, Lawrence Dupree, had to tell speakers several times the public hearing purpose was to listen to their comments on the October 4 draft Zoning Code, and it was not a question and answer session. Many opponents didn't even want to accept that answer! Both Pulaski Co. Planning and Central Arkansas Water volunteered to answer any questions sent to them in writing after the public hearing.
Deltic Timber was represented by their attorney Chuck Nestrud and their paid lobbyist Brent Stevenson, who also lobbies for Americans for Prosperity (name ring a bell?). Neither said a word nor did they need to, as they have done their dirty deeds behind closed doors.
The final speaker, and a bit of a surprise to me, was Central Arkansas Water CEO Graham Rich. He thanked the Planning Board for delaying a vote until Tetra Tech could provide CAW with some science behind the huge increase in density added to the Zoning Code late in the process. CAW made such a request some weeks ago, but Tetra Tech has not had time to complete their analysis.
Below is our handout given to Planning Board members. There was not enough time for me to read or even paraphrase each of our requested changes to the Zoning Code in the allotted 3 minutes. We also gave them a printed analysis of the number of houses that would be allowed, the same numbers provided to you last night.
The best description of the crowd at today's public hearing, and on September 27, is like a thumbs up or thumbs down crowd at the Roman coliseum. Sure hope the lions would find me distasteful.
Spokesperson, Citizens Protecting Maumelle Watershed
Date: October 25, 2011
To: Pulaski Co. Planning Board Members
From: Citizens Protecting Maumelle Watershed
Subject: Changes urged to Lake Maumelle Zoning Code
The October 4 version of the Lake Maumelle Zoning Code will allow far too many houses which equals far too many people and far too much pollution going into a very shallow lake. Our water quality would go down while our monthly bills would go up.
We urge you to:
1) Remove Section 2.3.C.2 and 2.3.C.3 along with Column B of Table 3. This is the language that allows 40% of the Low Impact District to be developed at 2 dwelling units per acre. Net reduction in permitted houses if this is removed: ~8,471 houses.
2) Remove Options 1-3 from Table 4. That would leave 1 house per 3 acres minimum. Under the 6 remaining options in Table 4 undisturbed open space would range from 35% to 40.5% with lots of either 3 or 5 acres minimum. Net reduction in permitted houses if this is removed: ~14,119 houses
3) Remove the following from Table 3, Column A, Number 2 where the "OR SET" option kicks in: "or as required by the Subdivision and Development Code (Chapter 8). All projects must apply the SET Tool, but provide open space as required by either the SET Tool of Table 4." Net reduction in houses- cannot be determined.
We also urge you to make the following changes:
4) Increasing stream buffers to 75' on both sides of all streams.
5) Removing conditional use in the Village District for Multi-Family, Quadruplexes, and Triplexes, thus making those prohibited uses.
6) Changing the name of the "Village District" to the "Little Italy District".
Please note none of the above house figures include bonuses for pumping wastewater out of the watershed.
Spokesperson, Citizens Protecting Maumelle Watershed