Lake Maumelle update -- Deltic loses | Arkansas Blog

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lake Maumelle update -- Deltic loses

Posted By on Fri, Aug 18, 2006 at 12:10 PM

Here's the news from Judge Mackie Pierce's court on a variety of motions in Central Arkansas Water's effort to condemn some 700 acres owned by Deltic Timber near the Lake Maumelle water intake. Deltic (which values the lake so much it refused Thursday night to oppose dumping of treated sewage in the water supply) wants to build high-dollar homes. The water utility fears runoff from the development could degrade the water supply.

Deltic lost the big motion of the day. Judge Pierce said an ongoing watershed study -- which offers some, but by no means definitive support for the notion that Deltic's land could be developed with minimal impact on the water supply -- was not ground to reopen the whole condemnation issue in a new trial. He issued summary judgment on that issue, denying Deltic's request for a four-day trial. That means a September trial will concern the value of the land, for which the water utility has already paid Deltic $3.8 million. 

UPDATE: Pierce also denied Deltic's effort to move the trial to Perry County, a hotbed of resentment against Central Arkanasas Water thanks to the demagoguery of Sen. Bob Johnson of Bigelow, who owns land in the watershed and tried in the 2005 legislature to severly limit the utility's condemnation power. It was hard to imagine that Deltic could prove it's impossible to get a fair hearing in Pulaski County. The timber company's offering of critical newspaper editorials and commentary didn't sway the judge on the point.

Other motions are still under discussion. We expect some argument will arise eventually on whether the water company can let jurors know that Deltic pays penny per acre in property tax on 700 acres of land it claims is severely undervalued at $3.8 million. 

By the way, the water commission will hold a special meeting Monday morning to hear a new appraisal from its own appraiser on the property. He reportedly now places the value at $5.1 million, which reflects some prices in land sales shortly after filing of the condemnation action. The commission presumably will up its payment to Deltic on account of that. Deltic's appraisal of the property is much higher --- $15 million


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