Wednesday, March 31, 2010

John Bame and Fayetteville High School students look at old rail trestle and discarded rail ties blocking construction of city trail through old tunnel under existing Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

I might not have discovered this for some time had not John Bame brought some FHS students to World Peace Wetland Prairie and then taken them on a walk of the Pinnacle Prairie Trail and the part of Tsa-La-Gi Trail as yet uncompleted from the Hill Place Apartments through the old rail tunnel to the west to Razorback Road and beyond. Thanks to the environmentally aware students for caring and wanting to learn more about the delicate geography and geology of our city. Please click on image to enlarge view of railroad ties over mouth of tunnel and then watch video below the photo to learn reaction of workers when they learned that the ties should not be dumped there.
Rail ties being dumped in mouth of tunnel in Fayetteville AR Aubrey james | MySpace Video The Fayetteville city trail administrator telephoned the railroad manager in Springdale an hour later and the railroad official confirmed that the ties were not to be dumped there but were to be dumped at Cato Springs Road. Rail ties are creosoted and very dangerous to human beings and other living things when the chemicals leach into the watershed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tracy Hoskins appointed to city planning commission

Please click on Skip Descant's byline, highlighted in blue, to go to newspaper site and read the full story.

Developer Named To Planning Commission

 — A Fayetteville developer who has not always had the smoothest relationship with the Fayetteville Planning Commission is joining its ranks.
Tracy Hoskins, owner of Paradigm Companies, will be part of the new freshman class of planning commissioners to begin serving April 1. Commissioners serve a three-year unpaid term. However, Hoskins has been appointed to a one-year term.
Hoskins’ role as a significant developer in the area caused the City Council Nominating Committee to give his application pause.
“We took that to heart,” said Kyle Cook, the council member who serves as chairman of the nominating committee.
His one-year term could be viewed as probationary, Cook said.
“That’s the way I saw it,” Cook said. “Though I can’t speak for the other members.”
Hoskins has applied for the post several times in the past, Cook said, and a developer of Hoskins’ caliber serving on the Planning Commission is uncommon.
“We’ve denied him several times, but we decided we’d give it a whirl this time,” Cook said.
For his part, Hoskins points to his close knowledge of the city’s planning policies as his upper hand.
“Hopefully, with my experience in construction and development, along with my knowledge of the UDC (Unified Development Code), I’ll be able to offer a somewhat different perspective,” Hoskins said.
And having a developer sitting on its own regulatory body should not be viewed as a conflict, he said.
“It is as if there is an assumption that there are two adversarial groups and that one group has in some way just infiltrated the enemy’s camp,” Hoskins said. “When in all actuality, we are all in the same boat — or maybe more appropriate, considering the current economy, life raft.”
Hoskins stated vehemently that development should be regulated.
“And I have never believed otherwise,” he said. “As a commissioner, it’s my charge to ensure that development follows what is currently prescribed by our UDC, nothing more.”
Hoskins relationship with the planning staff and commission in the past has been at times rocky. Oakbrooke, a new neighborhood planned for west Fayetteville that will add 174 homes on 29 acres, was approved by the Planning Commission. But when the City Council took up the planned zoning district, Hoskins debated various conditions of approval the Planning Commission had placed on the project. He brought the council new information, which the commission had not seen. It was a move viewed by the planning staff — and some members of the City Council — as inconsistent with the approval process.
Despite any misgivings, the council and Hoskins’ fellow commissioners are interested in what he can bring to the planning body.
“We wanted people with some experience, with some knowledge to hit the ground running,” Cook said. “And Tracy, quite frankly, he’s got the knowledge.”
“Everybody seems to bring a perspective,” said Porter Winston, a veteran commissioner. “And the diversity on the commission is very, very important.
“I’m hopeful that commissioner Hoskins will have a perspective that’s creative and insightful.”
And if in the past Hoskins has sparred with the Planning Department, it was usually because he was trying do something more creative, Winston said.
“When you’re on the deciding side of things, your perspective is different,” Winston said. “He’s going to have to see some things from the Planning Commission perspective instead of always the armchair quarterback perspective.”
At A Glance
Fayetteville Planning Commission
Audy Lack
Craig Honchell
Hugh Earnest
Jeremy Kennedy
Matthew Cabe
Porter Winston
Sarah Bunch
Tracy Hoskins
William Chesser
Source: City Of Fayetteville

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fayetteville Planning Commission forwards low-impact development ordinance to City Council with unanimous vote of approval

Please click on images to see examples of erosion problems on sites where low-impact construction methods were not adequately utilized and where the geology and geography of sites are not fully understood before removal of vegetation and grading are allowed.

Truly historic unanimous vote moves low-impact development ordinance to City Council agenda.

The Town Branch Neighborhood has been working to make low-impact development features a requirement of developments in south Fayetteville for a decade.
Web site documents early years of Town Branch neighborhood's fight for low-impact development
We have had little success as developers proposing projects listened to our pleas for protection of the Town Branch from erosion and our residents' property from flooding but had no motivation to follow through.
City ordinances have actually discouraged innovative and less costly ways of managing stormwater.
One important thing is having low-impact plans drawn up BEFORE removing vegetation or grading land.
As in the recently approved hillside-development plan, the soil on a site must be considered first.
If the geography and geology of a site are not fully studied and taken into account, low-impact development cannot occur.
So here it is at last: A chance for the Fayetteville City Council to approve a good ordinance to encourage developers to protect our watershed, wildlife, property and human lives.
My hope is to live long enough to see a revision of the currently proposed ordinance making low-impact development mandatory and anything less only by special council dispensation.
This ordinance as proposed can help Fayetteville meet federal and state regulations and protect the quality of water in both Beaver Lake and Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma.

Please click on Skip Descant's byline to view full story online in the Northwest Arkansas Times. Obviously, Skip meant to write "pervious" rather than "impervious" in its lead. Otherwise, this is a fine story. Impervious means that water cannot soak in. One key factor in low-impact development is keeping the water where it falls and allowing it to soak in, filter the water and replenish the ground water naturally.

Commission Approves Low-Impact Ordinance

 — Rain barrels, wide natural swales and impervious parking could become commonplace in Fayetteville landscapes in the future.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved an ordinance to regulate “low-impact development” techniques. The ordinance now goes to the City Council for continued debate and official approval.
And the shaky cell phone service around Fayetteville High School will continue. The commission again tabled a proposal to construct a new cell tower in the region.
Low-impact development policies — known in planning parlance as LID — attempt to reduce the amount of rainwater runoff from a development and improve the quality of that water by naturally filtering pollutants.
“There’s a lot of interest in doing things that reduce the flow,” said Leif Olson, associate planner with Fayetteville, when asked what initiative prompted the city to draft a low-impact development ordinance.
“I think we’ll see it used broadly,” Olson told the commission. “It’s growing, I guess, in people wanting to do something more environmentally friendly.”
The ordinance is written to accommodate low-impact developments, Olson said. It does not require developers to use these techniques.
A low-impact development ordinance was one of the platforms Sarah Lewis, a councilwoman from Ward 4, ran on in 2008. She’s been closely involved in its development.
“I’m very pleased,” Lewis said after the meeting. “And I’m happy that the Planning Commission saw the utility of this.”
It makes more options available,” she added. “Especially in a time when the national stormwater regulations are becoming more stringent and cities will need to comply with these regulations.”
The commission again delayed a vote on whether AT&T should be allowed to erect a 150-foot flagpole-type cell phone tower next door to the high school. The commission felt ill equipped to make the decision and said AT&T has not provided the planning staff or commission with enough information to base this decision.
“We didn’t really have a metric to state, ‘Where is the need,’” said Jeremy Pate, director of Fayetteville development services.
“It’s hard to understand that need when no data has been given,” Pate added. “We’d basically have to just go on good faith that they (AT&T) need one (a tower) and go with that.”
For its part, the phone company has said this section of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which includes the high school, the Hill Place Apartment complex and Razorback Stadium nearby, needs system upgrades to accommodate large amounts of mobile phone traffic.
“This is probably about the most congested and most commonly used in this region of the state,” said Dave Reynolds of Smith Communication, the Fayetteville company which would build the tower.
“That’s where the traffic is,” he added. “That’s where the people are. That’s where the people are who use the phone.”
Rather than build a new cell tower, the planning staff and commission would prefer to see “co-locating” on nearby cell towers or tall buildings. A cell tower already exists just more than a half-mile away at Beechwood Avenue near Baum Stadium. Another location is about a mile away near Walker Park. Neither of these locations are sufficient, Reynolds said.
“I’m still not convinced that the things that staff has requested have been provided,” said Christine Myres, a commissioner who offered a motion to deny the conditional use permit.
The commission will take up the request again at its next meeting.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ask Congress to restore Clean Water Act now

Please double-click "view as webpage" link near top right to see full post.

RiverAlert Header
March 22, 2010
keep our nation's waters are protected under the Clean Water Act
Take Action 
Dear Aubrey,
If you think the Clean Water Act protects your drinking water from pollution, think again. Please take action today to ensure fundamental safeguards for clean water in our streams, rivers, and lakes.
A confusing 2006 Supreme Court decision on the Clean Water Act has left the fate of 60 percent of the nation’s stream miles -– that provide drinking water for 117 million Americans –- in legal limbo. As a result, as reported in The New York Times, polluters are now claiming complete exemptions from reporting what they dump into local streams.
Congress can resolve this problem by passing legislation to restore full federal protection for all our waters. Help us ensure that all of our nation’s waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. Urge your representative to support introducing and passing the Clean Water Restoration Act today.
Thank you for your support.
Katherine Baer Signature
Katherine Baer
Senior Director, Clean Water Program

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I would like to express grave concern over the loss of protection for many of our small streams that provide clean drinking water for 117 million Americans in communities across the country. Supreme Court decisions in the Rapanos and Carabell cases have made it confusing and burdensome for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect small streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

As a result, enforcement actions against polluters have declined sharply the EPA estimates that over 1,000 cases have been shelved or dropped altogether. More recently it has become clear that some polluters are using the decisions as a justification to avoid any permitting and reporting requirements for discharging pollutants into our waters.

For the Clean Water Act to fulfill its goal of restoring the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters, all waters must receive protection corresponding with Congress' original intent when passing this landmark law. Upstream waters must be protected from pollution and destruction if we expect downstream waters to be fit for swimming, drinking, and fish and wildlife, and downstream communities to be safe from flooding.

I urge you to act in the interest of preserving clean water for healthy communities and wildlife. Please support introduction and passage of the Clean Water Restoration Act, which would clarify the definition of waters to eliminate uncertainty and ensure clean water in accordance with the goals of the Clean Water Act.

Thank you for your consideration.

Friday, March 12, 2010

World Peace Wetland Prairie spider milkweed, false indigo bush, dogbane, blue-eyed grass and cottontail rabbit photographed on May 21, 2009

Please click on individual images to ENLARGE view of a sample of what you won't see on Earthday at World Peace Wetland Prairie but may see again if you visit in May. Native wildflowers and tall grass emerge later than the typical nonnative species found in many gardens in Arkansas.

Photo above reveals view northwest with Amorpha fructicosa bush in bloom. Also known as false indigo or indigo bush on May 21, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie.

Cottontail rabbit reluctant to leave his grazing area and hoping photographer will back away on May 21, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie.

In photo above, the tiny blue-eyed grass is seen growing near a tall dogbane or Indian Hemp plant.

Above, Asclepias viridis, also known as spider milkweed or antelope horns, is nearing full bloom. Viridis is the earliest of the milkweeds to bloom in Northwest Arkansas.

Above is an instance of a tall dogbane or Indian hemp plant with a shorter spider milkweed at right.
Dogbane seems always to pop out of the ground before the milkweed and the leaves of the two are similar. Both are plentiful at World Peace Wetland Prairie.
For more photos of wildflowers at WPWP, please see
WPWP wildflowers

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cell Tower proposal at Hill Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard first item on agenda for tonight's Planning Commission meeting

Planning Commission Planning Commissioners

Sean Trumbo, Chair Craig Honchell
Jeremy Kennedy
Audy Lack, Vice-Chair Christine Myres
Porter Winston
Matthew Cabe, Secretary Jim Zant

Final Agenda
City of Fayetteville, Arkansas
Planning Commission Meeting
March 8, 2010

A meeting of the Fayetteville Planning Commission will be held on March 8, 2010 at 5:30 PM in Room 219 of the City Administration Building located at 113 West Mountain Street, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Call to Order

Roll Call

Agenda Session Presentations, Reports and Discussion Items:
No items.


1. Approval of the minutes from the Monday, February 22, 2010 meeting.

Old Business:

2. CUP 10-3512: Conditional Use Permit (CELL TOWER/HILL & MLK, JR.BLVD, 522): Submitted by SMITH TWO-WAY RADIO for property located SOUTHEAST OF THE INTERSECTION OF HILL AVENUE AND THE RAILROAD TRACKS. The property is zoned C-2, THOROUGHFARE COMMERCIAL and contains approximately 0.12 acres. The request is for a 150 ft. 'flag pole type' cellular tower on the subject property. Planner: Dara Sanders

New Business:

3. ADM 10-3533: Administrative Item (AARON WATSON, 323): Submitted by AARON WATSON for property located at the NORTHEAST CORNER OF MOUNT COMFORT AND SALEM ROADS. The request is for a variance of Fayetteville Unified Development Code Section 166.08 to permit a curb cut on Mount Comfort Road, a Minor Arterial, when there is an existing curb cut onto Salem Road, a Collector.
Planner: Andrew Garner

4. LSD 09-3372: Large Scale Development (LIFE STYLES, INC., 363): Submitted by BATES & ASSOCIATES for property located at THE CORNER OF W. SYCAMORE STREET AND SADDLEHORN AVENUE. The property is zoned P-1, INSTITUTIONAL and contains approximately 1.27 acres. The request is for a 14,165 s.f. educational facility with associated parking and infrastructure. Planner: Dara Sanders

5. CUP 10-3520: Conditional Use Permit (DICKSON ST. DEVELOPMENT CO., LLC/OUTDOOR MUSIC, 484): Submitted by DICKSON STREET DEVELOPMENT CO., LLC for property located at 301/303/307 W. DICKSON. The property is zoned MSC, MAIN STREET CENTER and contains approximately 0.13 acres. The request is for a conditional use permit for outdoor music. Planner: Dara Sanders

6. CUP 10-3525: Conditional Use Permit (JOANNE OLSZEWSKI/345 ST.CHARLES, 518): Submitted by JOANNE OLSZEWSKI for property located at 345 ST. CHARLES. The property is zoned NC, NEIGHBORHOOD CONSERVATION and contains approximately 0.07 acres. The request is for a conditional use permit for a change in an existing nonconforming use for professional office, chiropractic/massage therapy office, and a beauty salon. Planner: Andrew Garner

The following item has been approved administratively by City staff:

1. FPL 10-3521: Final Plat (CREEKSIDE S/D Ph. II/ MT. COMFORT ROAD, 360): Submitted by H2 ENGINEERING, INC. for property located at 4225-4427 MT. COMFORT ROAD. The property is zoned RSF-4, SINGLE FAMILY - 4 UNITS/ACRE and contains approximately 10.94 acres. The request is for Final Plat approval of Phase II of the Creekside residential subdivision with 13 single family lots.
Planner: Andrew Garner


All interested parties may appear and be heard at the public hearings. If you wish to address the Planning Commission on an agenda item please queue behind the podium when the Chair asks for public comment. Once the Chair recognizes you, go to the podium and give your name and address. Address your comments to the Chair, who is the presiding officer. The Chair will direct your comments to the appropriate appointed official, staff, or others for response. Please keep your comments brief, to the point, and relevant to the agenda item being considered so that everyone has a chance to speak.

As a courtesy please turn off all cell phones and pagers.

A copy of the Planning Commission agenda and other pertinent data are open and available for inspection in the office of City Planning (575-8267), 125 West Mountain Street, Fayetteville, Arkansas. All interested parties are invited to review the petitions.

Interpreters or TDD, Telecommunication Device for the Deaf, are available for all public hearings; 72 hour notice is required. For further information or to request an interpreter, please call 575-8330.