by Max Brantley
Kathy Wells, president of the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods, responds to a story in the Democrat-Gazette over the weekend quoting Pulaski County Attorney Karla Burnett raising questions about amendments added to pending land use proposals for the Lake Maumelle watershed.
Wells said, for one, that attorneys at the McMath Law Firm, which drafted the amendments, said there were no legal problems with them.
For example, Burnett objected to an amendment to explicitly protect current land uses by existing owners. Wells notes that the language merely repeats a provision in the county's own zoning code to further reassure existing landowners that they are protected.
Burnett also raised the specter of a "reverse taking" on a rule that could limit home development to 7,000, rather than a figure perhaps five times larger in Pulaski County. But Wells noted — laments, actually — that the amendment provides a means for that number to increase once it's proved that anti-pollution procedures are working to prevent degradation of the water supply.
The Coalition argues its policy to start small, at 7,000 houses, and prove pollution is controlled before allowing more, would serve “legitimate state interests” better than allowing 39,000 houses in our Watershed, draining downhill into our drinking water reservoir.
Any owner whose construction keeps pollution out of Lake Maumelle has “economically viable use of his land.” That is the theory of the present Code, and the Coalition does not change that.
Note: Any additional rules added to protect the watershed are opposed by Deltic Timber. County Judge Buddy Villines and his staff, such as the county attorney, have historically been deferential to Deltic, such as with the first major revising of the county proposals. It was written for the county planning office by Deltic. If you get my drift about the sudden new legal questions.