Muddy water -- UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Muddy water -- UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2007 at 1:37 PM

We can't be everywhere, but I'm hoping to get a report from the 2 p.m. meeting of the Central Arkansas Water commission. I'm hoping the news is that commissioners have turned down the incredible sweetheart deal to "settle" with developer Rick Ferguson on a subdivision he wants to build uphill from Lake Maumelle, the city's water supply.

As we've said before, Ferguson gets his lakeview subdivision, gets $1 million bucks and, worst of all, makes no agreement to develop future acreage under the new watershed management plan. It's total capitulation -- AFTER the water utility won its condemnation suit against Ferguson. It makes absolutely no sense. The political strings he's been able to pull are not self-evident. Why settle with Ferguson after going to the mat so righteously against the much more powerful Deltic Timber? Anybody with a solution to this riddle is invited to chime in.

I'm happy to say that I've heard in the last hour from multiple people involved in the matter on the water utility side -- including on the commission -- who are NOT happy about this deal. May they stand up and be counted.

UPDATE: The commission voted 5-1 6-1 to approve the settlement. The only no was from Eddie Powell of North Little Rock. Many questions were asked. No commitments were made by or for Ferguson's future commitment to watershed protection on additional acreage. Public comments were pointed and critical. Former Water Commissioner Craig Wood said the decision was wrong and had negative implications for future generations. By my early report, there was no answer for questions about what happens if a propoosed concrete drainage diversion ditch fails or doesn't work in taking runoff from Ferguson's property out of the watershed. Sad. Very sad.

Here's another eyewitness report:

Commissioners acknowledged that many of the opponents to the development had complained that it did not comply with the $1.2 million Lake Maumelle Watershed Management Plan, completed in May 2007. That plan calls for no development in Critical Area A, nearest the water intake. The development in question is in Critical Area A. After the charade of the public hearing Monday night and the 30 minutes for further public comment at today's meeting, Commissioner Jane Dickey articulated the ruse: All those critics who say the settlement doesn't comply with the WMP are wrong. The proposed ditch mechanically removes the develpment from Critical Area A, hence, no problemo. The motion was made, the vote was taken. It was an elegant thing.
There were immediate rumblings of a ratepayer lawsuit.

The purported reason for settling, rather than risk taking the thing to court in comdemnation, is the uncertainty about what price might be set for the property. Here's what CAW CEO Graham Rich calculated those costs might be:
There are 120,000 connections (meaning bill-payers) in the system.
If the price ended up being $3 million, the average cost per connection would be $2.08 per month for one year; or $4.86 at $7 million; or $6.94 at $10 million.
 Of course, larger water-users, such as industries, would pay proportionately more of that cost. Also, there is no requirement that any such expense be paid off in a single year. We do not even know with whom CAW is making this agreement, which relies on an enormous amount of good faith. We know it is with Waterview Estates LLC, but LLC member information is now confidential per Act 865 of 2007.

Also, this agreement binds the commission not just to deal with Ferguson but with anybody else he might sell the property to.


From the ArkTimes store


Comments (21)

Showing 1-21 of 21

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-21 of 21

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Womack gets questions. He doesn't answer

    The resistance mustered a turnout for a rare public appearance by U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, which meant a ferry ride from Peel, Ark., and a drive almost to Missouri. He didn't seem happy to see them.
    • Aug 22, 2017
  • Democratic Party calls for resignation of Jake Files

    The Arkansas Democratic Party says Republican Sen. Jake Files of Fort Smith should resign over news about handling of state General Improvement Fund money that wound up with him, not the project for which it was intended.
    • Aug 22, 2017
  • Rutledge touts effort to allow discrimination against gay people

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is braying about her intervention in yet another out-of-state lawsuit — this one to protect a Washington state florist who doesn't want to sell flowers to gay people for use at their wedding.
    • Aug 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

Most Viewed

  • Troubles mount for Sen. Jake Files. Maybe others, too

    Sen. Jakes Files has serious problems, based on an FBI affidavit filed Monday in Fort Smith. One new question is how many other legislators have problems based on spending of state surplus money?
  • Lawsuit filed against 'election integrity' commission

    A voting rights group has filed a lawsuit against the so-called election integrity commission that's likely nothing a Trump vehicle for voter roll purges. Talking Points Memo reports.
  • There is life other than football, UAMS indicates

    UAMS has announced that it will be open for business as usual on Aug. 31, even though a football game will be taking place that night at War Memorial Stadium.
  • Artist Dale Chihuly's court battle

    Dale Chihuly, the visionary artist whose work is currently on exhibit at Crystal Bridges, is the subject of a New York Times feature today about an ongoing court battle and the condition of the 75-year-old artist.
  • Another bank acquisition for Arvest

    Arvest Bank, the Walton banking enterprise, is acquiring Bear State Financial, led by Richard Massey, for $391 million, all cash. Bear State, based in Arkansas, has 42 branches and other operations in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation