people are looking at the place next door. They are just leaving."
Lauren had walked in the door talking. I ran outside quickly and
crossed the street to ask a neighbor what he had seen. The people
doing the looking were gone but they returned. They were members
of the city's park-governing advisory board, They had copies of
a plan created by engineers for a developer who within the past
year bought a parcel of land that forms an L around the south and
west sides of our half-acre lot.
though we jumped through the city's hoops a few months ago to form
a neighborhood association, we had not been informed as promised
when the developer started submitting plans to the city.
park advisory board had been asked to consider accepting money in
lieu of potential park land. An hour later, it was a done deal.
The park board approved taking $18,000 in lieu of land for park
use. An informal survey of people who live near the area proposed
for development suggests that most believe the protection of green
space, particularly the wetland, is more important than having the
developer pay the city a fee for use in developing parks beyond
amount of the payment in lieu of providing greenspace onsite means
the developer was hoping to get city approval of 48 apartment units
on somewhat less than 2.5 acres of land. The land is partially wetland
and is prime habitat for nesting birds but unsuitable for most purposes
and certainly not ideal for an apartment complex. In the first half
of the 20th century, it was pasture for a dairy farm.
the report on the proposal that the park advisory board members
read before they voted asserted that the engineer planning the development
had consulted the neighbors of the land. Actually, the engineer
and the developer had consulted one family and may have considered
that family's needs a little bit in the planning process. The rest
didn't know the status of the plans. Only rumor had alerted the
neighborhood to the possibility of development, leading to the effort
to form a neighborhood association, which did indeed meet in 2002.
However, neither the developer nor the engineer met with the group.
must realize that this developer isn't doing anything unusual in
this area. South Fayetteville houses are being bought by speculators
or developers at a steady clip. Much of the area is zoned to allow
the building of apartments, making it easy to get permission to
build in established neighborhoods that previously harbored only
engineers are experienced and competent and probably would not have
drawn the plans as they are had they not been confident of sailing
past most city regulations and even the Corps of Engineers' requirement
of a federal permit to fill in the delicate wetland on the property.
the other hand, many of us believe the wetland rules should NOT
be broken simply because the corps doesn't choose to say NO. If
a person understands the reasons for the rules and CARES about the
future, it would seem impossible to many of us that filling a wetland
would be an option.
who sell their property at a low price in many cases don't realize
how much more it can be worth to someone willing to build multi-family
housing on it. I doubt the developers doing this are tearing down
the houses in their own neighborhoods to build apartments, so they
will never experience the change in this neighborhood that 48 apartments
and 96 parking places will bring.
2000, the parcel was sold for about $56,000.00 to a young man who
appeared to have no plan except to resell at a profit. Two small
but quite livable houses facing South Duncan Ave. on the land rented
for enough to double his probable payment if he borrowed the money
to buy the property. In 2002, he found a buyer who obviously saw
the 2.46 acres as perfect for a 48-unit apartment complex with no
greenspace and enough concrete to park at least 96 cars and a few
bicycles. The developer paid about $99,000. The rent being paid
for the two houses at that time was more than enough to cover his
the fall of 2002, the developer had the houses bulldozed. The appliances,
which worked and could have been donated to the Salvation Army Store
or some other charitable resale shop, were crushed along with other
usable items. As far as I could determine, there was no study beforehand
to determine whether asbestos or lead paint was in the buildings
or any other condition existed to suggest a different method of
destruction would have been appropriate. In fact, the bulldozing
of one house occurred only moments after some people staying in
the house after the long-time renter had moved left the building
with a pickup load of personal items.
of course, two families had to move elsewhere. Some live trees as
well as one dead one were removed, without regard for the fact that,
until plans were complete and approved by all concerned governmental
agencies, they might have been spared.
good deal of understory vegetation was crushed in the process. No
attempt was made to save shrubs or flowering plants in the yards.
The developer didn't violate any law by doing this.
developer did not talk to me, the nearest resident, or, as far as
I know, anyone in the old, established neighborhood before buying
there. He apparently didn't consider whether the infrastructure
was suitable for the additional traffic or water use or sewage load.
He didn't violate any law by buying without considering the problems
with developing here or the feelings of the neighbors.
sewers have not been replaced since first installed. There is a
problem with the water main that enters the area from the east.
It has burst and exploded through 11th Street's blacktop repeatedly
in recent years. At this moment, there is water rising from the
blacktop at the same hump where the main has leaked before. The
leaking water is enough to provide for several homes! There is no
way to guess how much of the leakage is staying underground.
developer didn't ask how many of the neighbors would object to months
of noisy construction in the neighborhood. He didn't ask how many
work a night shift and might not be able to get adequate rest while
the work was being done. He didn't, apparently, consider whether
being a couple of hundred yards from a cannery with its noise and
bright light and odor of cooking when the wind is from the southwest
would be suitable for his apartments. He didn't ask where the hundreds
of song birds that nest in the lush understory vegetation on the
land he bought would go when their habitat was destroyed.
failures to consider relevant facts did not violate any law.
developer did not survey the neighborhood to find out how many children
now living nearby will be endangered by the expected 96 additional
cars per day leaving and entering South Duncan Avenue near a school-bus
stop. It may be assumed that he did not calculate the number of
children who can be expected to live in his proposed apartment complex
and can be expected also to be endangered when they cross or enter
the street on the way to school or a park, which would be a mile
or more away in all cases.
failures to gather relevant facts did not violate any law.
early surveys of the land showed that a percentage of it was wetland,
the plans the developer's engineers drew up, apparently at least
partially before applying for a federal permit to drain and fill
the wetland, appeared to have been based on the assumption that
the wetland rules would not be enforced on this property, placing
parking spaces where trees currently stand in a year-round wet area.
In an attempt to meet the city, state and national standards for
mitigating the increased runoff that would occur when rooftops and
parking lots replaced the vegetated wetland, he had a retention
pond drawn over a portion of the wetland near the south central
border of the property, where the natural runoff enters a small
branch that enters Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River
about 200 yards to the east.
up such plans did not violate any law.
it demonstrated confidence that the Corps of Engineers would issue
a permit to destroy the wetland area and showed no respect for the
regulations designed to protect areas such as this portion of damp-soil
designed properly, such a retention pond can keep the speed of runoff
from the area at about what is historically normal in a normal rainstorm,
but it will not allow the water to soak into the ground where it
falls. The concrete and the roofs prevent that. In a major storm,
the pond will fill and the overflow will be GREATER than it would
have been had the buildings and parking lots not replaced the vegetation
soil. This might not seem important if this were the only area on
this watershed being paved over. But the university controls the
headwaters of Town Branch, and it is building parking lots and roofed
facilities as fast as our tax dollars will allow.
underground streams that are common in the Ozarks will not be replenished
by such a pond. There will be little natural life in the area. The
species of crawdads that burrow under such land and surface through
large round holes found in many people's yards in this area, will,
if these plans are completed, no longer exist on this prairie.
is next? The proposal comes up for technical plat review the second
week of March 2003 and could go before the city planning commission
the following week.
are many reasons this development should be decreased in size to
protect green space and wildlife habitat and to allow the people
who live in the proposed apartments and the residents of the surrounding
long-standing neighborhood to enjoy a high quality of life.
is a matter of educating the developer on the needs and desires
of the people of the neighborhood and the best interests of the
people who might choose to rent the apartments in the future. If
it occurs, it must occur fast.