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Backing off



A proposal that the city abandon a small street that runs by City Director Stacy Hurst’s home at 4901 E. Crestwood St. was pulled from consideration by the City Board for the third time this week. The request, which has drawn some opposition from neighbors but no formal opposition by the Prospect Terrace or Heights neighborhood associations, had been scheduled for the June 19 meeting. Brian Jeffrey, a co-applicant, asked Monday that the board defer again.

Opponents to the closing don’t like the fact that the street closing would, in effect, create a large side yard to Hurst’s home, which backs up to Kavanaugh and has no back yard. Joyce Dillingham, the property owner on the other side of the street, 4916 Crestwood, originally joined Hurst in a petition to close the street, but is said to have dropped her support.

Backing off II

Hillcrest neighborhood worries have delayed a different request: To rezone the corner storefront at Kavanaugh and Markham — for many years Little Rock Paint and Wallpaper — to a planned commercial development that would allow C-3 zoning, a more intense use of the property.

Lawyers for Stifft Station Partners LLC asked the Planning Commission to defer their request until July 5 so the developers can meet with the Hillcrest Residents Association. Residents have expressed concern that the site’s 10 parking spaces will not be enough should the 4,600-square-foot building be converted to a restaurant or bar, and that overflow parking would move to the residential streets nearby.

City planning staff has recommended that only 2,300 square feet be allowed the C-3 use, which would require 23 parking spaces. Ironically, half that amount would be the preferred number under a proposed planning overlay for the neighborhood that will be considered June 21 by the Planning Commission.

New digs

County records show that former U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson and wife Randi, both working in Washington as lobbyists, recently bought a condo in the new tower at 300 Third in Little Rock for $220,000. At 830 square feet, the condo is among the new building’s smallest offerings.

Hutchinson isn’t moving. He said in a brief e-mail: “Yes, Randi and I purchased a condo in L.R. I love Arkansas and with seven grandchildren back there, I sure want to get back as often as possible.” Friends say he and his wife are prospering as lobbyists for the Washington firm of Dickstein Shapiro and the work includes representation of Arkansas interests. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Hutchinsons’ clients included Arkansas State University, the Stephens Group and Jackson T. Stephens Jr.’s Exoxemis, which has been working to develop drugs to treat infectious diseases.

Judicial watch

David Stewart leaves his district court judgeship in Little Rock at the end of this month to head the state agency that oversees judicial discipline. Gov. Mike Beebe will appoint someone to serve until an election in 2008, perhaps by the end of this week.

A number of lawyers have sought the appointment, including former County Election Commission Chairman Jerry Larkowski and Hugh Finkelstein, a Pulaski prosecutor. Another name mentioned as a contender is Bill Mann, who works in the city attorney’s office and has ties to Searcy, Beebe’s hometown.

More interesting, perhaps, is who’ll run for the office in 2008, when the appointee can’t seek the seat. Bill Watt, who gave up a municipal court judgeship during an investigation of judicial ethical violations and agreed to a lifetime ban from seeking the office, is telling people that he’s running. He won back the right to seek judicial office in 2004.

District Judge Lee Munson’s seat also will be on the ballot in 2008. He’s sent conflicting signals on whether he’ll run again. The potential for two open races has had many lawyers considering the courts — those already mentioned as well as Mark Leveritt, Slocum Pickell and David Cannon among others.

Fashion statement

Mike Huckabee, the presidential candidate, landed an interview with Marie Claire, a magazine that appeals to young women, and the interview included some fashion remarks. From the latest issue:

“Q: I read that you’re against miniskirts.

“A: If a person dresses provocatively, they’re calling attention — maybe not the most desirable kind — to private parts of their body.

“Q: What about a burka?

“A: No, that hides everything. I think a person’s hair, arms, shoulders, legs are an appropriate display of who they are. I want people to be attracted to me because they find me interesting, not because I’m wearing something ... well, I doubt I own anything provocative.

“Q: How about a miniskirt?

“A: A thong.”

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