Monday, May 28, 2007

City Council Folds and Jim Lindsey Rolls

Once upon a time, the City of Fayetteville had a rational comprehensive growth plan embraced by the citizens and followed by the Planning Commission and the City Council. No more. Fayetteville should return the 2006 award it won from the American Planning Council and get one from the Auctioneers Association, in recognition of the fact that developers can ignore the City Plan 2025 at their whim and purchase exemptions with ease.

The Planning Commission rejected Jim Lindsey’s proposal for a 1,200-unit development in the western sprawl epicenter of Wedington and Rupple last March. Lindsey’s lawyer Hugh Jarrett urged the Planning Commission to ignore City Plan 2025, but only three of the nine commissioners bought that. Shortly thereafter, Developer Dan Coody and his little band of toadies led a purge of the Planning Commission to install more developer-compliant members who would ignore City Plan 2025.

Lindsey appealed to the City Council, who rolled over for him 6-2, although the Links development violates all six goals of City Plan 2025. Ward 4 Alderman Shirley Lucas, who voted for Lindsey’s monster development that tried to pitch a private golf course as public green space, admitted, “It is not a neighborhood. It’s an apartment complex; let’s face it.” The business-serving Northwest Arkansas Times confessed, “At 152 acres, The Links is unquestionably all sprawl all the time,” but they praised a political process that compromised away the principles that we know can keep Fayetteville one of the most “livable cities” in the nation. We ignore the impact of growth at peril to the community we love. Called compromise or sell-out, it will give us the beauty of Sixth Street strip malls and traffic-clogging apartment mega-complexes like The Links.

Only Ward 2 Aldermen Kyle Cook and Nancy Allen demonstrated the courage and integrity to vote against the abomination. As did the Planning Commission before them, they stood firm for the fundamental principles expressed by our citizens and enunciated in City Plan 2025. The goals established by our community as guiding principles for the Plan included the following commitments: 1) We will make appropriate infill and revitalization our highest priorities, 2) We will discourage suburban sprawl, 3) We will make traditional town form the standard, 4) We will grow a livable transportation network, 5) We will assemble an enduring green network, and 6) We will create attainable housing. We are grateful for public leaders like Cook and Allen. It is a shame of the city that we don’t have more like them in city government.

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