by Max Brantley
Another day done. The line is open. Closing out:
* EASTER SEALS BULLYING: The saga of the abandoned Easter Seals training center on the east end of Lee Avenue across a ravine from the property owner, the Schools for the Blind and Deaf, will add a chapter tonight. Now the agency is asking the state governing board to amend its long-term land lease on the property so that it might develop a 14-unit housing project for disabled people, a definition that at least one neighbor believes could make it a residential facility for alcoholics and drug addicts. The board earlier voted to evict Easter Seals for failure to comply with the lease requirement of providing free training for school children there. Easter Seals has long wanted to convert the property to cash because it has built a new facility in western Little Rock. Neighbors are rallying to oppose the high-density residence plan, a bad use at the end of an alley in a quiet residential neighborhood. My guess is that Easter Seals is playing this card to coerce a financial settlement out of the state of some sort. Neighborly they are not. They have told the Board they'd take $100,000 to go away. Mighty nice of them. Board members aren't too complimentary of Easter Seals, I'm hearing from people at the meeting.
UPDATE: A meeting spectator says the ASBD Board voted unanimously to decline the housing proposal from Easter Seals. A suggestion that the board mediate with Easter Seals prompted critical comments about the agency's past lack of cooperation.
* HOME INVASION: Forbidden Hillcrest provides the narrative on a home invasion robbery about 3 a.m. Monday in the 2500 block of Kavanaugh. Two rifles, two pistols, a Macbook, TV, cash and ATM card were taken from the resident, who was tied up in a shower with his phone charger cord. The police have named one suspect being sought in the robbery, Robert Lee Holmes Jr., 21.
* PROTECT LAKE MAUMELLE: The League of Women Voters today urged the Pulaski Quorum Court to adopt zoning and land use ordinances next week intended to protect the Lake Maumelle watershed. A fierce lobbying battle — led by Deltic Timber and Koch-financed forces — to defeat the ordinances when they come to a vote next week.
Even though the concerns of many have been met by amendments to the ordinances over the past year, there continues to be opposition. The League of Women Voters Pulaski County cannot predict if the ordinances will pass. The League does feel that years may go by before any new watershed protection ordinances are proposed to the Quorum Court.
The League of Women Voters Pulaski County feels strongly that now is the time to enact these planning and zoning ordinances. Their passage will put in place a complete package of laws, which will give protection to the Lake Maumelle watershed that supplies drinking water to 400,000 people in central Arkansas.
If passed, the League of Women Voters Pulaski County will continue to monitor their implementation and evaluate their effectiveness in protecting the Maumelle watershed and act accordingly.
A rump group of Republican members of the Quorum Court who oppose watershed protection legislation are going to have an informal meeting with other regulation opponents at 6 tomorrow night in the county administration building. They'll be building on our story about a controversial conservation easement in the works with a county plannning board member to stir up opposition to Central Arkansas Water as manager of the watershed. Two things about that: 1) CAW built the lake and it is pristinely clean thanks to their obsessive protection over the years; 2) better them than the Kochs and Deltic lobbyists, leading the fight against watershed protection.
ALSO: A lawsuit was filed today by Central Arkansas Water ratepayers challenging the fee charged by CAW to acquire land in the watershed as an illegal tax and challenging the authority of CAW to regulate land use in the watershed under an agreement with the county. The county is studying the lawsuit. Greg Campbell filed the suit for Bryan and Kerri Sullins of Sherwood and Charles Williams of Little Rock.
ALSO: Planning Board member Ray Vogelpohl comments in a letter on recent reporting about his involvement in watershed easement acquisition. He defends himself and says he's being used by opponents to attack the larger plan. He said he's received no favorable treatment and nothing has been done in secret in the six years he's been talking about the easement.
ALSO: A gang of Koch-friendly Republican legislators have filed a bill that looks suspiciously like Son of Deltic, or an approximation of the legislative effort led severalyears ago by Death Star Bob Johnson to squelch Maumelle watershed protection. It would define regulations that diminished property value as a "taking" and require compensation. Observers think this is tied into the Maumelle fight, but it has much broader implication, a death blow to sound planning practice.
* BOOZE NEWS: Latest report I have is that there are roadblocks to the bill by dry county legislators to add city and county governing body approval to the permit process for private clubs, an enormous hassle that would complicate tremendously the permitting process.
* MARIJUANA NEWS: The attorney general has rejected the latest version of a new medical marijuana initiative for ambiguities in wording. It will be reworked.