Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Skip Descant of The Morning News reports on delay of vote on sale-barn issue

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Sale Barn Zoning Delayed A Month

By Skip Descant
FAYETTEVILLE — Even though veterans and community groups wanted to see the Fayetteville City Council move forward on a zoning request, the city stalled.

The council Tuesday evening ceded to a delay request by developers wanting to build apartments on the 9-acre Washington County Livestock and Sale Barn site.

The council is now to decide the sale barn rezoning Sept. 15.

What irked groups was the continued delay at making a decision.

"This whole issue is beginning to sound like a good-news, bad-news joke," said Sam Sansom, president of the Northwest Arkansas Military Officers Group. "And bad news doesn't get any better."

The tabling request came from Campus Crest, the North Carolina student housing developer set to purchase the site if the zoning request goes through. Developers are still working through the "bills of assurance." Those are guarantees by the developer the project will have certain limitations regarding issues such as density or height.

"There's a lot of moving parts. It's a timing thing, and we'd like some more time to reach out and make some plans," Alex Eyssen, an attorney representing Campus Crest, told the City Council last night.

Veterans groups oppose the zoning change because they would like to buy some of the land as an area to expand the Fayetteville National Cemetery. But they also oppose the idea of college students living next door to the cemetery.

The City Council voted 7-1 to table the request. Robert Rhoads voted against. But other council members also expressed discomfort with the delay.

"I really don't want to table it, myself," said Shirley Lucas, a council member from Ward 4. "It bothers me that the people asking for the extension are not the ones who own the property."

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