Saturday, June 28, 2008

Association for Beaver Lake Environment growing!

From: President@able-ark.org
Sent: Sat 6/28/08 12:51 PM
To: aubreyshepherd@hotmail.com
This is an e-mail from 'Able-Ark.org - Association for Beaver Lake Environment '

Hello ABLE members,

I wanted to let you know that ABLE hosted a special Town Hall Meeting for Beaver Lake Dock Owners on Monday, June 23, 2008. The purpose of the meeting was to sell ABLE to Beaver Lake property owners, identify/discuss issues affecting and threatening the lake, and to increase ABLE membership. This meeting was very successful! We have signed up many new members, the meeting was standing room only, over 110 people attended!

We also had two guest speakers:
Thad Cheaney from the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers - discussed dock and shoreline issues.
Nathan Jones, VP of Power Source Solar - discussed solar applications on boat docks.

I have posted the program on the website (www.able-ark.org). Login, click on "Information Library" page, and then click on Town Hall Meetings. You will see the "Dock Owners Meeting". You will need Adobe Acrobat in order to view the program.

Thanks for supporting ABLE!

Doug Timmons
President, ABLE

Telecom Board's recommendation to council doesn't please administration

Please click on images to read Susan Thomas' letter and Richard Drake's letter to the Fayetteville City Council.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

How much did bank lose on the Aspen Ridge project?

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of Chambers Bank sign on Royal Oak Parkway at the north entry to the now-failed and finally defunct Aspen Ridge Townhome project site on Sixth Street/Martin Luther King Boulevard in south Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 2006.
For a story on another development project gone wrong, please click the following link:

Investors sue over Chambers Bank involvement in fraudulent development scheme

Friday, June 20, 2008

Chambers bank investors sue over fraudulent development scheme

Investors sue Chambers Bank, four developers
BY SCOTT F. DAVIS Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2008
URL: http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/News/66357/
A group of investors filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Chambers Bank of North Arkansas, a loan officer and local developers Mitchell Massey, Edward Davis, Morgan Hooker and Rick Hancock.

The lawsuit alleges plaintiffs invested $ 2. 7 million to purchase land in 2005 for a Florida townhouse project known as Eastpoint Redevelopment LLC that “ was no more than smoke or mirrors. ” The project was never built, and the $ 14 million loan to buy the land is in default.

The developers are accused of securities fraud for marketing the failed and misrepresented project as a “ private offering. ” Plaintiffs seek to recover their lost investment and collect punitive damages.

The suit claims that defendant John Russell Meeks, a loan officer for the bank, received a $ 1 million interest in Eastpoint without making a cash contribution. He is the nephew of bank board of directors member John Ed Chambers III, according to the complaint.

Meeks was out of the office Thursday afternoon, and his home phone number is unlisted. Chambers ’ number appears to be unlisted. Massey, Davis, Hooker and Hancock could not be reached for comment.

The suits alleges that the bank knew or should have known that Meeks had an interest in the development and that Eastpoint had insufficient funds to close on the development loan. Two “ John Does, ” which are asyet-unknown bank officials, are also named in the suit.

Bank board of directors member Robert Taylor, speaking from the Fayetteville branch, said he had not been served with the lawsuit and would not comment on it. Regarding Eastpoint, he said that he only “ knew there had been some controversy with it. ”

Plaintiffs in the case include S. Bradley Daniels, Jay and Karen Garnett, Terry Harper, David Mix, James Renner, Scott Smith, Arthur Starr, James and Laura Smith, and four limited liability companies.

Other defendants include Br uce Millender, Scott McLain, J. Y. Massey, Dirk Van Veen and several limited liability companies, including Growth Group.

Brandon Barber, Chamber’s son-in-law, allegedly made a short-term loan at a very high rate of interest to Eastpoint, but he is not named in the suit.

The developers are accused in the 62-page complaint of deceiving investors from the beginning of the project and then providing bogus project updates that lured the plaintiffs into investing more money.

Defendant developers are also accused of overstating the project equity and then later changing the scope of the project without advising the plaintiffs.

According to the complaint:

• In the spring of 2005, Massey, Davis and Hooker offered the plaintiff an opportunity to invest in “ attractive waterfront homes in a new urban atmosphere ” in the coastal village of Eastpoint, Fla.

• Plaintiffs were told the project had been approved by the city of Eastpoint for 220 mixed-use units on 16. 9 acres, but there is no such city in Florida. (Eastpoint is an unincorporated census area in Florida. )

• In October 2006, Massey issued a capital call that resulted in an additional investment totaling $ 388, 500, making the total investment more than $ 3 million.

• In June 2007, plaintiffs examined financial records of Eastpoint and learned the scope of the project had grown and Growth Group had failed to create and maintain proper accounting records, and that Massey, Hancock, Hooker, Davis and Van Veen had commingled funds with other projects.

• Defendant Strategic Builders LLC, acting through Massey and Hooker, invoiced Eastpoint and was paid more than $ 1. 7 million between May 2005 and February 2006.

Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact: webmaster@nwanews.com

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Arkansas Business says developers demand consistent approval process in June 2, 2008, article

Arkansas Business quotes developer's demands on June 2, 2008

Arkansas Business quotes developer's demands on June 2, 2008

Hank Broyles was trying to be the good guy when he paid more than $5 million in 2007 for the 28 acres of land left vacant by the unsuccessful Aspen Ridge development.
But it didn't take long for Broyles to become the bad guy.
Broyles' multi-family infill development, Hill Place, which was developed to occupy the land vacated by the former Aspen Ridge development, received unanimous approval from the city planning staff and commission.
But the proposal has faced the scrutiny of Fayetteville residents and city council members since the beginning of April.
Residents have criticized the proposal, the property type and, during the past few meetings, have focused the criticism on Broyles himself.
"They're mad at the development and even though I had nothing to do with it at the time it was left incomplete, I'm the target," Broyles said of disgruntled residents who live near the defunct subdivision.

Broyles thought he was doing the right thing by developing the land and bringing a new infill project to the city, now he's not so sure.
For the past two years, several developers have approached the city of Fayetteville with new infill and mixed-used developments in response to a call for more of those types of developments through the City Plan 2025.
But Fayetteville city council meetings have become minefields for developers and their projects.
Some Fayetteville residents use the bi-weekly meetings to condemn the projects the city feverishly pushed for just two years prior. Council members often allow weeks or months of public opinion to override developers' plans, solutions and outside professional opinions.
According to parties on both sides, the approval process has become lengthy, expensive and unpredictable.
Developers are growing tired of the council's seemingly impulsive nature and many, like Broyles are saying "no more."
"New infill project have become far too risky," Broyles said. "Residents like infill developments until they come to their backyards, then they don't like it. I won't do [an infill project] again unless it's on contracted land.
"If the council denies Hill Place, then I'm stuck with 28 acres and the mortgage payments," Broyles said.
City Plan

Developers Demand Consistent Approval Process
By Katie Stockstill

Change font size

Approved in 2006, Fayetteville's City Plan 2025 was the catalyst for new infill development.
Fayetteville spent $225,000 to hire a Florida-based community-consulting firm to help create a document that would guide and outline the community's future growth and development.
The approved plan included six goals for the future of the city. Goal No. 1: make appropriate infill and revitalization the highest priority.
The plan quickly gained the approval and support of Fayetteville residents, employees and elected officials.
Developers saw Fayetteville's desire for infill and began bringing projects to the table.
Designing and engineering an infill development is no easy task, Broyles said. The plans are often much more difficult to complete because of the limited space, existing neighborhoods and pre-existing conditions.

But when done well, Davis said, infill projects can become a great, low-impact addition to a neighborhood and community.
Infill projects are often presented to the city as planned zoning districts, which allow developers to apply for re-zoning and development rights at the same time.
The city council must approve all re-zoning requests and consequently have to approve all proposed PZDs.
On June 3, the council will vote on three PZDs; Hill Place, Bridgedale Plaza - a mixed-use infill project planned for east Huntsville Road - and Forest Hills - a mixed-use infill project slated for Wedington Drive.
Hill Place was the only development to be approved by the planning commission. Bridgedale Plaza and Forest Hills were both denied by the commission but chose to appeal the decision to the city council.
Jeremy Pate, director of current planning for the city of Fayetteville, said PZDs were intended to simplify the approval process but the opposite seems to have happened.
Approval from the commission is not a green light for developments nor is a denial a dead-end. The city council always has the final vote.
"The council does make the final decision and it's based on policy and policy issues are just that - guiding policies, not laws," Pate said.
Public Input
Ruskin Heights developers Ward Davis, Morgan Hooker and Dirk Van Veen were not prepared for the reception they received from residents and the city council when they presented their plans for Ruskin Heights in late 2006.
"It was like walking into a hornet's nest," Van Veen said. "We had attended hundreds of neighborhood meetings and met one-on-one with dozens of neighbors. But we were still met with a preponderance of opposition."
Fayetteville Mayor Dan Coody described the council's treatment of the developers as brutal and frustrating.
And the council's hostile environment wasn't reserved for the Ruskin Heights developers.
Multiple Fayetteville developers said they have received the same contradictory response and reaction to their proposed infill project.
Broyles said it's a case of "not in my backyard."

Residents are fine with changes and new developments until developers attempt to bring the change to their neighborhood.
"People just don't like change," Broyles said.
Developers can approach the council with a unanimous approval from the planning commission but face an onslaught of questions and demands from residents and council members.
And following the lead of residents, many council members have become inconsistent in their voting and opinions of infill projects, casting a dissenting vote to support the minority that disapprove of the development.
Fayetteville Mayor Dan Coody said the city council's tendencies to side with the minority discount the majority's opinion and thwart the entire approval process, leaving the developer frustrated and discouraged.
Re-zoning and development decisions aren't that simple, said Ward 2 council representative Nancy Allen.
Allen said public opinion must be part of the decision and labels herself as a neighborhood advocate and consequently votes to represent the neighbors.
"The council's actions have shown us just how difficult it is to get a great project approved and how easy it is to get a terrible project through," Van Veen said.
But sentiment for the minority doesn't run through all council member's blood.
Ward 3 city council representative Bobby Ferrell said he continues to be an advocate for the Plan and empathizes with the developers' desires for more predictability from the city council.
"They hire professionals and as they come through the process they do what's required by the development ordinances and the planning commission votes it in," Ferrell said. "Then you have three or four ‘NIMBY' people show up, that's the most frustrating thing.
"Everyone has the right to speak their mind but I don't think the opinion of one or two people should override the expertise of opinions.
"If we're not going to approve the infill projects we asked for, then I think we can find better ways to spend our money," Ferrell said.
Bridgedale Plaza developer Clint McDonald said the opinions and inconsistencies boil down to politics and personal favor.
The Ruskin Heights developers agree.

Solutions Pate said the city has had multiple discussions about how to make the approval process more predictable but so far little has changed.
The city will never adopt zoning-by-right so the next best thing is to get the planning staff and city council on the same page.
Ward 4 council representative and mayoral candidate Lioneld Jordan admits the approval process is flawed but said voting solely by the planning commission's recommendation isn't feasible.
The public must always be allowed to comment and have a say in what goes on in their backyard.
Allen and others said they believe public sentiment for infill projects will increase once an infill development is completed. But that could take years and, Coody said.
The City of Fayetteville doesn't have that much time, he said.
[ Link to this article ]
[ Link to this article ]

Thursday, June 5, 2008

June 3, City Council meeting video archived on Fayetteville Web site

Please use link to view city meetings from archived video or to watch certain upcoming city meetings live.

June 3, 2008, City Council meeting archived video

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hill Place student-apartment plan passes

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Student Housing Gets Green Light From City Council

By Christopher Spencer
The Morning
FAYETTEVILLE - A student housing complex planned for south Fayetteville received approval Tuesday from the City Council.

Approval comes despite vocal opposition by some neighbors and months of discussion by city officials about whether or not the 288-unit development is compatible with the area.

The $50 million development sits less a quarter-mile from the University of Arkansas and employees of Place Properties, which will manage the Hill Place complex, intend to market to students.

"I believe the positives outweigh the negatives," said Ward 1 Council Member Brenda Thiel. Approval was opposed by two city council members, Lioneld Jordan and Nancy Allen.

Some residents said they were concerned that the development could create flooding in other areas of the neighborhood.

The Hill Place complex is planned on 13 acres off Hill Avenue and Sixth Street, on the site of the former Aspen Ridge project that was abandoned in 2006. The site has been in one form of development or another for at least four years.

City planner Jeremy Pate said 37 conditions were attached to the project before city staff felt it would be compatible.

Allen said she opposed the development because, after Aspen Ridge was abandoned, city leaders have a special obligation to protect the neighborhood. She said she wondered what other city residents thought about the land being used as a "dormitory" for students.

The site was cleared of most of its trees before the Aspen Ridge project was abandoned. Hill Place will use much of the existing improvement and will make changes to address stream quality and runoff concerns, said Todd Jacobs, the project engineer, at a council meeting last month.

The management company rents rooms centered around common areas shared by residents. Community advisers, similar to resident advisers in a university dorm, will live in the complex to oversee it.

The city council also denied an appeal by the developer of Bridgedale Plaza to have the land where it would be located rezoned. The development was proposed as a mixed-use development off Huntsville Road in southeast Fayetteville. The 16-acre site would combine commercial space, duplexes, houses and a storage facility.

Planners supported all aspects of the project except the storage, Pate said.

Bridgedale squashed; Hill Place passed


Council passes Hill Place plan 5-2

Robert Rhoades, Brenda Thiel, Adella Gray, Shirley Lucas and Bobby Ferrell vote fo Hill Place student-apartment plan despite neighborhood opposition.
Nancy Allen and Lioneld Jordan vote against the student apartments.

Thiel announces reelection bid

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Thiel Seeks Third Term On City Council

By Christopher Spencer
The Morning News
FAYETTEVILLE - Council Member Brenda Thiel wants a third term representing Ward 1 residents in Fayetteville.

Thiel said it's important that some representatives with experience remain in their elected positions with a new mayor being elected and new aldermen coming on board after city elections Nov. 4. No one has announced he or she is running against Thiel.

She has held the Ward 1, Position 2 seat since 2001. Ward 1 covers south central and southeast Fayetteville.

The most pressing issue facing the city right now is declining revenue, and Fayetteville leaders need to focus on economic development and ensuring existing businesses remain in Fayetteville, she said.

Keeping the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville also is a crucial need, she said.

Thiel said she was proud of the work she did developing the city's hillside development ordinance. The ordinance didn't have quite "the teeth" that she said she wanted it to have, but it did go a long way toward offering good construction practices in development, she said.

Thiel is a Fayetteville native and has lived in Ward 1 for more than 20 years. She supported the adoption of the Downtown Master Plan and the city's 2025 Plan.

She said she has been a strong advocate of long-range planning for growth. She promoted the Walker Neighborhood Plan and said she hopes future development comes to south Fayetteville.

She sponsored ordinances that waive building fees for Habitat for Humanity and the Seven Hills Homeless Center.

She also served on the first Attainable Housing Study Committee that looked at ways to make housing more affordable in the city.

She serves as chair on the city's Ordinance Review Committee and Environmental Concerns Committee. She is a member of the Street Committee and Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission.

At A Glance

Brenda Thiel

Age: 59

Employment: Owns and manages Thiel Properties.

Education: Fayetteville High School graduate; some college.

Family: Widow

Source: Staff Report

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Times, Democrat/Gazette both offer opinion on Telecom oversight

George Arnold column on Telecom takeover

NWAT edit on Telecom Silly Talk

NW Arkansas Times article, Jim Bemis plea to city council

Tree frogs enjoy World Peace Wetland Prairie and adjacent vegetated land despite removal of 30 acres of prime habitat for Aspen Ridge/Hill Place

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of tree frog sounding off about 50 feet from World Peace Wetland Prairie on June 2, 2008. Tree frogs were abundant on the now treeless Aspen Ridge project land until it was cleared of timber in the summer of 2005. After tonight's Fayetteville City Council meeting, all references to Aspen Ridge may be appropriately read as HIll Place.
Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of tree frog sounding off about 50 feet from World Peace Wetland Prairie on June 2, 2008. Tree frogs were abundant on the now treeless Aspen Ridge project land until it was cleared of timber in the summer of 2005. After tonight's Fayetteville City Council meeting, all references to Aspen Ridge may be appropriately read as HIll Place.