Wednesday, July 25, 2007

TOP STORY >>Housing on golf course would cost city millions

Leader senior staff writer

If the North Hills Golf Course were turned into a housing development, it would cost taxpayers between $2.2 million and $2.4 million in infrastructure improvements to accommodate the additional traffic and storm runoff capacity, City Engineer Michael Clayton said at Monday night’s Sherwood City Council meeting.

That would include an estimated $665,000 in road improvements and underground drainage, $450,000 for two 48-inch storm drains, $280,000 to get in and out of the development from state Hwy. 107 and $400,000 to make the Windchime Bridge higher, wider and less subject to flooding, he said.

The city recently conducted its own appraisal on the land at $2.2 million after a potential buyer offered the private owners $5.1 million for the golf course, which the city has blocked and is now in litigation.

Clayton’s information was in response to a question from the public and not related to any council action. Four immediate neighbors of the new Wal-Mart Supercenter under construction on Maryland Avenue spoke not against the Wal-Mart—which has already reduced their property values—but in favor of a tall, long brick or concrete wall to separate their homes from the parking lot. Kerrie Rounsaville and her husband Ben invited council members to join them at 7 a.m. some Saturday morning to listen to the rock crushers and heavy equipment already in full swing and their cars already coated in a fine dust.
“I’ll even make you a pot of coffee,” she said.

Rounsaville said she was concerned not only about the noise from the parking lot, but, in light of the weekend purse snatching and deadly shooting at the North Little Rock Wal-mart, with their own safety. They said they didn’t want some cyclone fence that people could climb getting away from the police. One said the North Little Rock Police were summoned to McCain Boulevard Wal-Mart more than 600 times last year.

“Your request is quite reasonable,” said acting Mayor Bill Harmon, who faces City Clerk Virginia Hillman in a runoff special election to replace Dan Stedman. Stedman resigned shortly after taking office for health reasons.

Developer Tim McClurg, through Brooks McRae of McKinney Associates, withdrew his request to consider at the meeting an ordinance to rezone about 13.5 acres from R-1, single family residential to R-3 to allow construction of 248 luxury apartments at Oakdale and Brockington Road.

Rents for the gated apartments would range from $800 per month for a one-bedroom to $1,200 per month for three-bedroom units.

The planning commission approved the rezoning 7-0, but Council Member Becky Vassar said she had concerns she wanted answered first. She said she wanted the public to have more time to consider the issue.

Several people expressed concern that Sherwood already had too many apartments and that criminal often live in apartments.
Vassar reminded the developers that if the council voted down their proposed zoning change, they could not return with the issue for one year, and recommended they return in 30 days with their proposed ordinance.

The council unanimously adopted an overlay district to limit residential construction in part of the recently annexed land at the end of Little Rock Air Force Base runways. Because the area in question already was under such a limitation from when it was under Jacksonville’s control, there was no opposition.

The council also unanimously rejected an ordinance to rename Brookswood, which runs only a few blocks before becoming Brockington Road. The business owners on Brookswood said it would be a hardship on them.

The council also approved creation of a tennis center professional in the Parks and Recreation Department at a cost of $35,714 including insurance and payroll taxes, and also approved a new position for District Court case coordinator, at a cost of $57,120.

The council also approved an ordinance declaring a house at 103 Anne Ave. a public nuisance, condemned it and authorized its demolition.

The city had been unable to contact an owner for a long period of time. Next-door neighbor Toni Collier told the council “the house stinks, the sewage is backed up and if there were a fire, my house would burn down.”