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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Times' July 15 headline two weeks premature; it may be accurate if published on July 22, 2009

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of a couple from West Palm Beach, Florida, at the Fayetteville National Cemetery on July 14, 2009. They were on a self-guided tour of Civil War battlefields and National Cemeteries and such. Many people choose to vacation in cities that have significant historic sites.

The July 15 headline below may be accurate if published again on July 22.
"Rezoning of sale barn property postponed
BY ROBIN MERO Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Wednesday, July 15, 2009
URL: http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/News/78148/
"Consideration of a rezoning request for the Washington County Livestock Auction property will wait until the Aug. 4 meeting of the Fayetteville City Council.
"Developer Campus Crest LLC wants two more weeks to develop a bill of assurance for the request, which will be presented to the council with the aim of making the zoning request more palatable.
"The developer is asking that nine acres be rezoned to downtown general from heavy commercial/light industrial and seeks to build apartments for University of Arkansas students."

The headline and the two graphs above were written after an agenda-setting meeting of the Fayetteville City Council. It may turn out to be accurate if the council tables the issue during the July 21 meeting. No action is taken at agenda sessions beyond setting the agenda for the official council meeting. If the developers actually do ask that it be tabled at the July 21 meeting, then the a member of the council could make a motion to table and, if that were seconded, then they could vote to table or not. If the council approves tabling, then it might not be further discussed.
If the tabling fails, then a motion could be made to vote on the issue of rezoning, which would require allowing developers to present and the public to speak. So there is no guarantee that the issue will not come to a vote at this meeting, but it does appear likely that it will be delayed until the first August meeting.
It would be an embarrassment to the city if apartments were allowed next to the national cemetery. This isn't about property rights. The lack of need for apartments for university students at this time has been well-documented. The obvious need in Fayetteville is for affordable housing such as the single-family homes in the neighborhood nearest the former sale barn and the National Cemetery.

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of representatives of the VA and contractors on July 14, 2009, discussing plans to prepare property to be added to the Fayetteville National Cemetery.

On Tuesday, federal officials and engineers and others with experience in cemetery design walked the cemetery and some adjacent land to the west that already has been bought by the Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation and donated to the VA for cemetery expansion. That land will be prepared after careful study of that land to become part of the burial ground. But it will not meet the projected need for more space for much more than a decade.
The sale-barn ground also would require careful planning and much work if it is added later. But the people on hand yesterday are well-trained and able to do it properly. It will be needed and is in the natural spot to be added to the existing cemetery that was created in 1867, soon after the civil war ended.
Maybe some people would not see the inappropriateness of putting apartments there unless it were allowed and then they actually experienced what it would be like.
Just imagine.

Quoting the NWAT article further: "The council by law is to consider only whether the zoning requested is compatible with the neighborhood.
"Alderman Sarah Lewis asked how the developer can present information about the project when the council is not to consider a specific project.
" 'I don't understand; we're not allowed to talk about the project, but they're allowed to bring a bill of assurance," Lewis said.
"City Attorney Kit Williams said a bill of assurance doesn't describe a project, only limits the range of a zoning.
A bill of assurance places voluntary restrictions on a developer."
"Copyright © 2001-2009 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact: webmaster@nwanews.com"

Regardless of the outcome of the effort to stop this rezoning, the Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation will continue its fund-raising effort. There is no guarantee at this point that federal money will be provided to help expand the cemetery even though Senator Blanche Lincoln told me in person that she will work toward that end and even though Congressman John Boozeman told me and several other people recently that he will work to earmark a bill in the House of Representatives to provide money through the Department of Veterans Affairs to purchase the sale-barn property to add to protect the future cemetery and the thousands of veterans are eligible for burial there already.
Please make donations payable to the Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation and mail to P.O. Box 4221, Fayetteville, AR 72702.
For more information, please go to the RNCIC's Web site at http://regncic.tripod.com
Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corporation's Web site

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