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Hillcrest hubbub

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About that long-running neighborhood squabble over a teardown and new residential project on I Street, in the heart of Hillcrest bordering Allsopp Park:

Residents of I Street won a victory Thursday when the city manager and city attorney decided that developers of a house that’s too large for its lot must seek Planning Commission approval to alter their planned development.

The city planning department said the footprint of the 3,500-square-foot house is 30 percent larger than Gary Pursell and Larry Chisenhall’s permit allowed.

Planning Department head Tony Bozynski asked city attorney Tom Carpenter if the department could solve the problem by asking the developers to redraw the lot lines for the house and three others to be built on the property. Carpenter said the change was too substantial for the department to allow without commission approval.

Builder Pursell denied a report in last week’s Times that he left the I street site in a huff after being told by the city to stop work at the house. The work — some clean-up, Pursell said — violated a stop-work order issued by the city. Pursell also said that the city should assume some blame for his overlarge house footprint. He could have corrected the problem before the house was built “if the city had caught this on permitting,” Pursell said.

City board opening

When City Director Barbara Graves resigns her seat to run for mayor, the city board will vote to fill the at-large seat for the two years-plus remaining on the term. Kevin Dedner, Arkansas government relations director for the American Cancer Society, who ran for a city board seat in 2004, tells us he’s seeking the appointment. Others being mentioned include: Mike Coulson, Bill Rector, Mary Beth Ringgold, Jerry Meyer, John Parke and Gene Fortson.

Enter the lawyers

Who knew that lawsuits could be so good for the economy?

Williams & Connolly, the huge Washington law firm, is shipping in dozens of lawyers and staff to defend drug manufacturers in a series of lawsuits before federal Judge Bill Wilson. Some 5,000 cases from around the country claim hormone replacement drugs cause breast cancer.

The first so-called “bellwether” case against Wyeth, Pfizer and others goes to trial July 31. Another major case is set for fall. Williams & Connolly, which is defending Wyeth, reportedly has leased half of the second floor of the Lyon Building on Capitol Avenue, a space with 28 offices, to house its defense team from July 1 through the end of the year.

Donkey doings

John Whiteside takes over July 3 as executive director of the Arkansas Democratic Party. Whiteside has been a consultant for New Media Strategies in Washington, although he also recently worked on Dustin McDaniel’s primary campaign for attorney general. Whiteside’s other political experience incluAlso, Greg Hale started June 15 as statewide director of Arkansas Victory 2006, the Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign. The DeQueen native recently worked on governor’s campaigns in Virginia, Maryland and other states.

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