Thursday, November 17, 2005

Beaver Lake Condos Approved...

In case you're scouring the net, looking for information about the decision regarding the Beaver Lake Condos, here's what I know:

During a Benton County planning commission meeting last night, the BCPC voted 4-2 to allow the first building of the 3 (totally inappropriate) proposed 25-story high-rise condominiums on Beaver Lake. Details are still a little bit sketchy, but it sounds like the vote initially was 3-3 after the first vote, with one planning commissioner absent. More on that in a second. That first vote came well after midnight.

Moments afterwards, the attorney for the project asked for a 5-minute recess to confer with his clients. Supposedly, they suggested a 15-story height for the first tower, with heights for the others to be determined later. All of a sudden, one commissioner changes his mind, and the condos are approved 4-2. (After possibly skirting Freedom of Information Act rules by presenting new information to commissioners and having them talk about it privately in a public meeting.) All of this came well after midnight, after a marathon meeting at Washington Junior High School where over 150 citizens made their comments. (And let's not forget the poor journalists who were covering the meeting until nearly 3 in the morning.)

There's more to be told regarding this story, but I should probably keep my mouth shut about it for a few days. In a few days, I'll have a complete, reasoned, line-by-line, ass-reaming deconstruction of the bastards at E&S Development as well as the short-sighted, ignorant, amateur-hour Benton County Planning Commission.

What I've heard so far is that the planning commissioner who was absent, Adele Lucas, was out sick, possibly with bronchitis. That may or may not be the case, but all I know is that she missed the single-most important vote that the Benton County Planning Commission has faced in the last 20 years. The way I see it, unless you're in the hospital, or contagious with West Nile, there's absolutely no excuse for missing that meeting. If the vote was 4-3 with everyone present, there's no chance of bringing it back before the planning commission that same night. Only the tie vote allowed that to happen. (Of course a 4-3 vote in favor of the condos would have kept them at 25 stories.)

Adele Lucas should join the rest of her fellow planning commissioners in resigning their posts for falling asleep at the wheel and being a big giant waste-of-space as far as the direction of the county is concerned. People started talking about having county zoning 10 years ago. They're just now getting around to putting a zoning plan in place, about one year too late to keep 3 monstrous, out-of-place condo buildings from littering up the aesthetics and sightlines of Beaver Lake.

Way to go, planning commissioners. Perhaps you'd be more comfortable working in some far away rural Arkansas county where they're deciding where to put the first traffic light and which road to pave first. You obviously have no idea how to properly manage and encourage appropriate growth in an explosive, progressive area.

I'll save the comments about the condo project for some other time, but just imagine 25-story buildings on a lake where people go out of their way to hide their lakehouses in trees and bluffs, preserving the natural feel of the lake. There's probably not a single building that pokes more than 2 or 3 stories out of the summer treeline. And we're talking about some million dollar homes here, not tiny cabins.

For those of you who know the story of the Buffalo National River, I'm sure Dr. Neil Compton rolled over in his grave last night.

Sorry we dropped the torch, doc.