Big trouble in Little Italy: Sierra Club joins Central Ark. Water in opposing incorporation | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 15, 2015

Big trouble in Little Italy: Sierra Club joins Central Ark. Water in opposing incorporation

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 at 1:39 PM

click to enlarge proposed_small.jpg

The proposed incorporation of the community of Little Italy into a municipality, which at first glance seemed like a quirky, one-off story about historical preservation, has turned out to be a matter of some controversy.

Last week, Central Arkansas Water, the utility which manages Lake Maumelle and provides water service to Little Rock and other communities, announced it would fight the incorporation. CAW is concerned that Little Italy's real motivation for seeking cityhood is to circumvent planning and zoning requirements that Pulaski County has enacted to protect the Lake Maumelle watershed. Now, the Sierra Club and the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods are also urging Pulaski County to deny Little Italy's petition and asking the Little Rock City Board to adopt a resolution in opposition.

Among the points made by the Sierra Club in an email to members:

While the stated reason of the petitioners is historical and cultural preservation, the proposed area to be incorporated extends far beyond the area known as Little Italy. It encompasses over 5,000 of the 19,000 developable acres within the watershed. This means that over 25% of the watershed could soon be developed without regard to the county zoning ordinance designed to protect the lake.

Central Arkansas Water and its consultants used assumptions for run-off rates, building density, stream buffers, and protected forests using a complex modeling tool based on THE WHOLE 19,000 acres being included in the calculations. Those assumptions and results can no longer be used to determine the protections necessary to protect the lake water. It could require additional land purchases for CAW or even more restrictive ordinances for the rest of the residents within the watershed to maintain existing levels of run-off.

If “Little Italy” becomes a municipality, it would have the ability to annex surrounding properties and further undermine the zoning ordinance and lake water quality.

That last point is especially important. The boundaries of the proposed town as currently drawn would approach the north shore of Lake Maumelle in a spot or two (see map), but if the community annexes more land down the road, it could take up an ever larger percentage of the watershed and encroach further towards the lake itself. (A larger version of the map is available in the CAW attachment below.)

CAW also lays out another argument in its memo to the city that is distinct from protecting water quality: The incorporation could "jeopardize the continued growth of Little Rock." The reasoning there is that landowners in Western Pulaski County might be more inclined to join a future Little Italy, considering the community's stated intention to keep taxes and fees minimal or nonexistent.

Among the evidence CAW provides for the theory that Little Italy's incorporation is driven by desires to avoid land-use and planning requirements and knowledge of the development potential of the land within its new boundaries: 

The Little Italy organizers ... estimate that about 380 people reside in the area to be included within the new town. The town will include about 8.8 square miles of real property, with a population density of 43.4 individuals per square mile. Among a comparison of Arkansas cities and towns with populations ranging from 200 - 403, Little Italy would be the second largest municipality in terms of geographic area but the second smallest in terms of population density of any town with this population.

Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde will hold a hearing on the incorporation on July 13. Here's CAW's memo to the Little Rock City Board:


Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

  • Senate bill imperils rural health care, hospital leaders warn

    In the four years since Arkansas chose to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Harris Medical Center in Newport has seen its “bad debt” — bills left unpaid by patients — cut in half. Eight percent of the 133-bed hospital’s patients fell into the bad debt category in 2013, the year before Arkansas created the hybrid Medicaid expansion program known as the private option (later rebranded by Governor Hutchinson as “Arkansas Works”). Today, that figure is 4 percent, according to Harris Medical Center CEO Darrin Caldwell.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Beyond repeal of Obamacare

    The proposed Medicaid cuts in the new U.S. Senate bill could impact coverage for 400,000 Arkansas children.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Study: Arkansas tops nation for percentage of rural children on Medicaid

    Almost two-thirds of children in Arkansas’s small towns and rural areas receive health care coverage through Medicaid, according to a report released Wednesday by researchers at Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina — the highest percentage of any state in the nation.
    • Jun 7, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

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