Friday, November 7, 2008
Threat of Litigation Forces SouthPass Approval
This is rich. The City Council approved the annexation and the Planned Zoning District for the SouthPass Development LLC. The main argument last night was not about sprawl, nor environmental consequences, nor cost of infrastructure, nor even whether the city needed a huge regional park. "If the city council refuses to annex the property or approve the PZD, SouthPass LLC could sue the city for millions of dollars," said Kit Williams, Fayetteville City Attorney. That would have been good advice four years ago.
Imagine that. The same bunch of developers who got the advantage of the $3.7 million Tax Increment Financing subsidy to build a magnificent hotel in downtown Fayetteville and gave us a big hole in the ground, filled to make a parking lot just before an election, might sue the city for failing to follow through on a contract is . . . ironic at best.
Ward One Alderman Adella Gray was the biggest supporter of approval, but everyone else seemed resigned to voting for it. Ward Two Alderman Nancy Allen said, "Every single, solitary person that I've talked to, or gotten an e-mail talking about (SouthPass ), is not in favor of this project, and I speak for them." Ward Three Alderman Bobby Ferrell admitted, "I'm gonna vote for this, but I really don't want to. I feel like I've been forced into it by the threat of litigation." Only Ward Four Alderman Lioneld Jordan voted against all three measures, which passed 6-2.
Who signed that contract? Who signed that contract to take ownership and liability for the old landfill before the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality completed its study of what the dump contained and the potential cost of closing and sealing to stop toxic leakage? Who signed that contract four years before the city staff produced a report that it would cost the city $39 million to provide infrastructure? If the city staff had provided that information before someone signed a contract, we might not be under duress and in this situation.
Who did sign that contract, anyway? Do they still work for the city?