Transcription of MAPC Meeting On the Agenda 21 "Greensborough Village"
Located at Hilltop in Jonesboro
$150 thousand had already been spent on the project before it was even brought before the MAPC for approval
This is a transcription of "MAPC Meeting when the MAPC (members appointed not elected) voted unanimously to approve the "Greensborough Village" development in Jonesboro. Lonnie Roberts is the Chair of the MAPC. After MAPC approves a rezoning for a development, it goes to the city council for a vote. There are a few blank lines in the transcription which indicate I could not hear a couple or three words from the tape. The things that are really key, or that concerned me, are in red font. I also included some notes in brackets on some of my concerns in green font. For what it is worth, my recommendation for the city council is included at the very end of this email. If anyone finds any errors, let me know; and I will make the change.
One of the key points made in this transcription is that a potential of 2,500 people are expected to live in this village, and 87 acres is all that is proposed for the housing area. I believe that is higher density than anywhere in Jonesboro. The entire acreage for the project, commercial and housing, is about 200 acres. Anyone who knows anything about Agenda 21 would agree that the proposed "village" fits all the principles of Agenda 21.
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Please state your name for the record and tell us what you are going to do.
Presenter for Developers (Developers are also called the Applicant: My name is Chuck Downham, and I work with Littlejohn Engineering Associates up here representing the applicant in this matter. Also Jerry Halsey is part of the applicant organization; we also have Randy Tolbert who is the traffic consultant who has been retained to help work on this project as well.
What I would like to do, ladies and gentlemen, and again I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you. We are seeking a change in zoning, from the current zoning classification to a Town Center Overlay District. If you recall, recently the city of Jonesboro adopted a new set of zoning that included a creation of a Town Center Overlay District to complement the small village residential classification that you have.
The Town Center Overlay District itself was created to promote development of a pedestrian oriented mixed-use district that contains a variety of different types of usage ranging from residential, commercial, office, civic, open space, etc. [All classical Agenda 21 principles as set out in the writings of Dan Burden who wants to take our cities back 100 years where people walk and bike and use public transit rather than drive. Dan Burden's videos are also featured on the organization's website that the Mayor joined recently. Otis Spriggs attended two of Dan Burden's training sessions that were sponsored by the senior citizen group, AARP, a nonprofit]
The Overlay District itself has several key styles that we think are very important in considering a change in zoning, primarily embracing open space, gathering places; we want this to be a place where people come together. The very nature of a town center it is compact, it's urban; dense in terms of its development pattern. We also want to make sure we are sensitive to
encouraging a sense of place. We want this to be a place where people can enjoy living, working, and playing, and recreating all in the same place. [Typical Agenda 21 principles]
We also want to make sure that there is attention to design standards, design criteria, making sure that landscape architecture, streetscapes, etc. all work together to create a special place. Then we also want to create a reduction in the dependency of automobiles. Oftentimes centers will do that by creating a walkable environment where people can all live within the same community where they work and are entertained. [Reduction in automobiles to save the world from climate change is the main goal of Agenda 21 and the EPA.]
What we want to do is create a vision where people will want to live; where people will want to work, also a place where people want to play. Again we want to create this live, work, & play environment where there is just this wonderful array of land uses but they really just bring people together but also creates a wonderful, vital, vibrant, sustainable place for businesses to invest, for people to invest in terms of homes but more importantly to create just a sound __________pattern for that particular area especially as a gateway of heading into the university. This is really about creating great places; again it's about people; and we want to try to create a development that brings people together. [How much is this being planned for University students who are not known to be respectful of property and also note the developers want to create a village, an image. Jonesboro became the wonderful place it is because people, not the developers, created their own environment and image by where they chose to live. Few chose high-density areas.]
In terms of the site itself, and I am sure Mr. Spriggs has detailed this in the analysis of the _____________, we think this property provides an exceptional opportunity in terms of its proximity to the university, the general topography and the property although it does present some challenges, it also presents some unique opportunities to create a good mixed use environment. We also have exceptional road access to this piece of property to help diffuse and disseminate traffic around the property and the development that happens within. [It appears the state will abandon where 351 is now and route it directly through the village according to the maps of the village. Note discussion of this toward end of this transcription.]
In terms of the Master Plan itself as you have seen in your agenda package, we are creating mixed use environment; we are creating density by design, and this is done very purposely to make sure we are blending land uses _______________concentrating the development
pattern in such a way that it creates sufficient traffic movement, creates a connection to the community but also equally important is that it is pedestrian friendly. We want this to be a walkable community, one that connects people, places of employment, where they live, etc. all together in a very vibrant community. [Creating density by design is not usually the choice of people in the city and is always noted as number one in the cause of crime. All over the nation the expansion in recent years in housing has been toward less dense population. Even in the Jonesboro area, outlying districts have grown at a higher rate than Jonesboro city limits]
In terms of agreement for a village town center, I want to take a second to pause and go through this particular ______with you; but as you can see, often when you are looking at a master plan you are looking at a two dimensional type of illustration. We wanted to take a second to give you kind of a bird's eye perspective on what this could potentially look like as the project unfolds over the next several years. As you can see, there is a mix of building typologies, land use patterns, etc. all with the intent of creating this wonderful, walkable, sustainable development that we call Greensborough Village Town Center. [This will put Jonesboro on the map for being progressive and is probably one of the reasons the city is pushing for the village. I can't help but recall the progressive high school they built here after the tornado in the 70's with open classrooms, etc. that teachers could see would be a nightmare. It costs the taxpayers money for years making the changes to bring it back to a usable school building]
The Master Plan itself will focus on a couple areas within it; and we can certainly address the other questions you may have about different elements of the plan, but in the residential area we are looking for everything from single family detached, town homes, multifamily, etc. but again it is creating a good cross section of housing styles and types. We think that is very important not only in terms of meeting market thresholds which you may have within the community but also different price points. We want this to be a community that people can invest in early in their life, and they may choose to stay their entire life there. We have a number of communities back in Nashville where I work that literally people move from one part of the neighborhood to another, but they stay in that same community. I think that is very important in terms of continuity and the commitment people will often make to their communities. [These villages have not been around long enough to test this theory of living in a community all their lives.]
________________creating a mix of different types of uses. We want ground floor retail; we want areas that are engaging for pedestrian traffic that are making their way around the community, but we also want to create the opportunity for offices as well as residential above the ground floor. To activate that streets _______ 24/7 which we think is very important from the standpoint of economic vitality.
The last segment I will focus on, and it is really an exciting concept and that's back down in the corner there you will see a series of little red boxes. Those boxes represent restaurants that focus upon a village green. That village green is strategically positioned right across from the college campus, the university campus. That could be an area where you have a lot of festivals, pre- game activities, all sorts of things all focused around the university itself. More importantly it is also an area where people as they are eating dinner, they want to watch their kids play or whatever you know. It's basically providing all eyes on the park which we've done this particular development park in a couple of other settings, and it has worked incredibly well in partnership not only with park departments and cities but also in areas where the property remained in private property under common ownership, home owners property association. But again you are creating this village green concept that we think is a wonderful focal point as you make your way into the development itself. [They tout the green space in the village, but if I remember correctly, they are required to have 15% green space in the village, but in normal housing developments you have way more than 50% green space. Yards are most often larger than the house. And who wants to take their children to a park to play when they can play safely in their own fenced backyard in a normal subdivision.]
I want to take you through a couple of the different planned documents that are within the site or pattern that you have in front of you. We want to create a walkable, transit supported community. We have sidewalks which if you look at this particular diagram, you will see grid lines both edges of the streets, again creating pedestrian protections ______.We also want to make sure that the design is transit supportive. We understand Jonesboro has a transit system, and we want to make sure we are supporting the volume of flow of transit traffic within it but also try to promote that as a means of people getting around _____ within the development but also the connection to the community as a whole.
Street hierarchy - We've got a number of different types of streets, everything from boulevards to two and three lane streets, private alleys in some of our residential areas we've got some ____________residential _________but again array of different street types within the town center _____________opportunities for on street parking which we think are very important for some of the businesses that run along this particular road system since they make their way around the community.
Open space - We try to provide a network of open spaces and common greens. One of the other important things about this is that it is usable. It promotes gathering, and it also creates a wonderful connection to the community. It is very important in terms of having open space or green space and embracing is part of it but also in this development we are going to have a lot of hard scape. This could be plazas, patio areas in terms of restaurants, etc. The key there is that you want to make sure there is a blend of not only green space and green scapes, but we also want to make sure there's a good variety of hard scapes as well, again to promote gathering and different civic and private events that may take place within the community.
The development standards that you have as part of your package, including an array of different documents that stay within the guidelines that we stipulate in there, a detailed list of permitted uses by different types of categories. We also go to great lengths to describe the different __________, the height requirements as well as some of the different design standards that are specific to those latest categories, but we also spend a good bit of time also talking about things like street scape design; we want to focus on signage, lighting and a lot of other things that make up and complement the development as a whole, all that is outlined in this particular guideline. The great thing about this particular type of tools is that it creates a wonderful tool for city staff and others to react to site plans, subdivision plans, etc. as they are making their way through the review process as this project unfolds over the next several years.
I would be happy to entertain any questions you have.
MAPC member: Can you briefly discuss the storm water retention. I see the overall site plan, and I know you are in design phase right now; but it is a huge site and there are going to be some huge ponds I would think on it; and it doesn't reflect that.
Presenter for Developers: One of the areas that we are focusing some of the storm water is the village green down in the corner both as a weather detention area but also when you don't have working in the storm water management capacity to be able to use it as a little tree. I can't speak to the specifics in terms of the storm water management system. Associate Engineering is working through those details, and they are going to do everything they can to make sure that is ______________I agree there are a number of drainage issues that will have to be dealt with, but in the key areas could be to minimize or negate any __________that may take place to manage those storm waters on the site. Several areas that we have denoted as open space are also going to serve as storm water management_______
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Question? (meaning are there questions by the MAPC commissioners] Then he asks the city planner for his comments.
City Planner Otis Spriggs: I have provided you with a 22-page summary in term of the staff report trying to focus on some of the main issues of this particular proposal. Number 1, we weighed consistency with the land use plan for the general planning area; and it will be consistent with the land use plan as it relates to this property being a part of a major commercial node in which the land use committee anticipated it to be developed as some form of mixed use type development in the future.
We have also provided you with a list of questions as it relates to rezonings in terms of criteria for resolving in which the planning commission and counsel can assure that the property would be developed in accord with city ordinances, and that also it would not be detrimental to the surrounding community so we have lifted a few comments that will enhance the area from access transportation management perspective as well as from a land use perspective so we have listed a number of observations.
Staff also had an opportunity to actually visit these types of developments, and we went to Conway, Arkansas where you have an opportunity to see developments [wonder who paid for that trip and for the time spent on it since the city is supposedly not funding any of this and it is a private investment?] that are similar to this where folks are actually choosing to live in these self-sufficient neighborhoods where they can actually live there and also take part in common activities in terms of dining, and other social involvement as well as business and service oriented uses. We've also had the opportunity to visit areas in Nashville, Tennessee which are very similar. We also find mixed-use type developments that have been successfully done in other major cities such as Atlanta which I have had another opportunity to explore where it does work.
We had an opportunity to review the various aspects of the plan in the pre-meeting, and a number of concerns were addressed by the various departments, also the utility companies - CWL was in attendance in that meeting in which we aired a few questions to the developer as well as the design professionals who have spent a lot of time to put this Master Plan together.
As noted, there will be certain things coming forth as final development plan requirements in which a number of those items will be addressed; and we will be getting some of those details to you shortly. The Plan as noted does show connectivity from a pedestrian standpoint so there were some questions or concerns raised from a pedestrian safety standpoint so the applicant will be bringing forth to you a traffic impact study that will address the traffic management of the site as it relates to our major arterial connections in which there's a lot of work we feel needs to be coordinated between the applicant and the state highway department. Our Metropolitan Planning Organization was also planning to be involved in that process as we work towards those alignments.
As we do follow the development there are some unknowns that we do realize that; however, the applicant is willing to craft any conditions as we move forward in conversation tonight on how we can address these in the best way so there be no burden placed on the city in the future as the development will be implemented.
So therefore in terms of the agency reviews in which Michael will probably be making comments from an infrastructure standpoint, but we fielded questions regarding signage, for example, postings within the right of ways that have been proposed such as street trees and street scapes which a maintenance question was raised in the future as to how do you handle that so the applicant will be providing you details during the final development plan as it would relate to the Homeowners Association Property Association will manage and maintain a lot of those facilities so we will get into that conversation as well.
As noted, the applicant has also made provisions for transit consideration in which our JETS transportation director is involved with that process and he attended and fielded some questions to the applicant as related to any burden financially on the city and they have notified him that that it is not the intent initially that the city would have to budget anything as it relates to getting people on or through this particular site but, however, they want to be a part of the conversation as we move forward.
As noted there are a number of uses that are outlined that would be permissible as part of this rezoning so we have listed those on page 7 of the staff report of which we find there are no detrimental uses that would be included here. Another enhancement with this type of issue ? it provides an opportunity where folks can actually age in place as was talked about earlier in the presentation in which I think there is a proponent for assisted living that could result from this type of development, so we find that to be very positive that it would focus on various generational living quarters for various folks within the community.
With that said, there were a number of things we felt were very positive. There has never been an opportunity for a city to have any type of design standard. This is the first effort as you work through your adoption of the Town Center Overlay District where we have an opportunity here to see a development that would move forth that would come back to you with further detail that would be in alignment with these design standards that have been provided to you. We feel confident that there is some components from residential to commercial can be implemented through this particular overlay process by giving them some form of flexibility to respond to the market which they courageously state that with the Phasing Plan, which you do have a copy of , that they plan to implement this I think between a period of five to ten years. I think that to be fair which is very courageous; however, if implemented according to the Master Plan, we feel it would be a positive for the community.
I have listed ten conditions which we can read later. I am not going to detain the conversation; I want to provide the public an opportunity to speak to the commission so we can see what all the issues are on the table, and then we can detail those later to make sure that we have included, I think, everyone's consideration.
Michael, I don't know if there is anything you want to call out from the pre-meeting questions raised at this time; however, we can sum those up in the end I think.
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Is that it for now?
City Planner Otis Spriggs: I think so. The other area I think that I fielded questions from maybe one or two commissioners was around the area of the phasing which had been provided and the concern with the commitment from the developers to complete out the subdivision or the Master Plan that is in accordance with the phasing so the response to that basically I think is that there is no magic to the phasing numbering that it could change with the market meaning that phase one could start and phase five could follow. I don't know if you want to talk about that. [Later Jerry Halsey, one of the developers says there is nothing set in stone in this plan.]
Presenter for Developers: Often times when you put a phasing strategy together there is a logical sequence in terms of the extension of infrastructure roads, utilities, storm water management systems, etc. so sometimes hop scotching to another phase could require a significant amount of investment in terms of infrastructure with no land development following it in the immediate future so you want to try to create a logical sequence in developing out the property ? so you are avoiding carrying those infrastructure costs for a long period of time. The phasing strategy that we have obviously is subject to change depending on market conditions but we think we have developed a pretty logical pattern for how we think development will occur over the development period but very much appreciate the opportunity to be flexible on that as the market bears.
City Planner Otis Spriggs: And I also wanted to note that for your purposes that if you have been to the site right now you may have seen some dirt moving. As you recall, there was a vast amount of property along the frontage of Johnson Avenue that was zoned C-3 limited use overlay, and I think the developers anticipated some of that jump start of the project so that will be coming to you as our
final development plan as those uses are proposed as well.
Presenter for Developers: That's our understanding as well.
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Now we will hear - Actually what I would like to do first is if you are here concerning this case or in opposition, would you please stand so we can get a head count as to the number of people who came out for this case. Opposition please. Stay standing so we can get a head count. Anybody that is just concerned about this case go ahead and stand up. Now if you are here and you would like to speak (I am trying to divide the time here) would you remain standing so I can kind of get a head count as to how many people do want to speak.
So when we speak, we are here to just address the rezoning primarily; this is not actually like a site plan approval or anything of that nature. I will ask you to come to the mic before you speak; anytime you want to speak, come to the mic, state your name and your address and like I say stay on the topic of the rezoning so let's get started. We will allow 15 minutes for the opposition to speak. State your name. [Probably not on purpose, but Limiting it to rezoning left some question in the minds of opponents because they weren't sure what they could speak about, not knowing the difference in rezoning and the project itself. Also only15 minutes were allowed for opponents, but City Planner Otis Spriggs who was the main cheerleader for the project] had much more time than all the opponents put together had to speak. Also the developers had all the time they wanted to speak and answer and ask questions.]
Debbie Pelley is first to speak: Spoke about five minutes.
Debbie Pelley: My name is Debbie Pelley and my goal is not to be a troublemaker, but as long as I have freedom in our country and I have real convictions that concerns something, I am going to express my feelings.
First, I want to say there is a lot more to this development project than meets the eye; it is very complex. It was kept hidden from the community until just recently even though it has been in the planning stage for 2 years according to Harpole and $150,000 already spent on it, and the community knew nothing about it. The community deserves to know more about it and have several questions answered before it is approved.
It is classic United Nations Agenda 21 development as outlined in Agenda 21 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de and replicated in the Jonesboro Vision 2030 original document which was co-directed by Gary Harpole who is now heading up the development.
Gary Harpole is quoted as saying this "Greensborough Village will redefine how development is done in Jonesboro and Northeast Arkansas" and "This is the region’s first true master-planned, mixed-use development." Master planning by the government, so called private/public partnerships, and not by the people is one of the things to which we object. Other master plans by the government like government housing projects have been disastrous. Solyndra was a public/private partnership.
We are not a fringe element protesting this type of development. Alabama banned Agenda 21 from its state and the legislation to do so passed both state houses unanimously. The Republican National Committee passed a resolution opposing Agenda 21. The same resolution was passed in several states and included in GOP platforms, including Arkansas and passed by Craighead County Republican committee. Anyone who has studied Agenda 21 at all would readily recognize the "village" as classic Agenda 21 development - high density, mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods with bikeways.
Here are some of the things these resolutions say about Agenda 21. United Nations Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control that was initiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de; Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local communities throughout the United States; through such policies as Smart Growth, Green or Alternative projects, and sustainable development; Agenda 21 views the American way of life of private ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and privately owned farms as destructive to the environment.
Tennessee passed a House Joint Resolution in which, "the General Assembly recognizes the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21 and hereby exposes to the public and public policymakers the dangerous intent of the plan."
Similar action has been taken in Kansas, Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas, South Dakota and in counties too numerous to name.
We also see a conflict of interest here. Harpole, an unelected official, was in charge of much of the planning of the controversial Vision 2030 and now he is heading up the development of an Agenda 21-style "village" that has been in the planning for 2 years without the public's knowledge. Someone will make a lot of money off this development. I am not sure you have been given the whole story or even true facts. Harpole was co-director of Jonesboro Vision 2030 which mirrors Agenda 21 and some of the data and survey results in that long document were just wrong. Visions 2030 was so controversial that the Mayor decided not to have the city council vote on it. Harpole also chaired the committee that studied the Multifamily housing rezoning issue in which there was a controversy over the number of apartments empty in the city. A consultant hired by the committee, probably hired by Harpole, the same committee that did the study for Vision 2030, reported only 2% of apartments units in Jonesboro when in actuality the vacancy rate was determined to be more like 10%.
And then I have some questions that different people asked me to ask, but I don't want to take more of the time unless
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Let's take another speaker, and we will come back and do some questions. [There was never an appropriate time for me to ask the other questions I had.]
Iris Stevens: ( spoke about three or four minutes) My name is Iris Stevens. That's Iris like the flower. I live on 2714 Turtle Creek, and I am concerned about the lack of transparency in this project. Up until the last ten days I had not seen anything about it, and then all of a sudden we have this just media blasts. There have been at least three or four articles in the paper, a couple of articles on KAIT, and all of those have just been effusive in their praise; but we have gotten very, very few facts about and so I have some questions. I would really like the answers now right here; and if you can't answer those questions, then I would suggest that you postpone okaying this project until you get those answers out to the public.
The first one, What kind of tax money is going to be involved in this? We know road tax money, we know city, water, and light. That is all tax money. When it's tax money, it involves me. When it is a project I have concerns about, then I think I should be able to get some answers.
This has been called an upscale development, the residential area - and by the way looking at these beautiful, beautiful plans which I think if he can get that much on 200 acres he needs to be planning everything. It looks like half of the development at least will be commercial. That leaves what 100 acres for the residential. What kind of density is that? [Later it was revealed that only 87 acres is to be dedicated for housing.]
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Chair Lonnie interrupts and says,Maam we are actually just here to try and discuss the rezoning. Actual details of the development we won't be providing any of that. [Probably not on purpose but again causing confusion in opponents' minds as to what was up for discussion.]
Iris: Well why not. Before I would agree to anything I would want to know the details.
Lonnie: That's the thing. This is just a rezoning request. Then addressing Otis Spriggs, "What would you say to that" and Otis says, "I would say, let her pose all the questions and then
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Okay, go ahead.
Iris Stevens: These are my questions about it. Like I said, for the rezoning I would want to know all the answers to this before I agreed to anything. The next one. What is going to be the average size of these homes if it is upscale? How does it compare with other upscale areas in town, Barrington Pt, Ridge Point What is the size of the lots. You know when we are talking about a very small area what kind of lots are you going to put all these people on? What size? We heard from Harrison (former case) what size his lots will be. Are these zero lot lines. I am primarily concerned with the residential aspect of this development.
And what kind of need (has anyone proven) do we have for this type of development because I actually keep my ear to the ground on a lot of these kind of developments, and they're not as popular as some people have stated they are according to my research. I actually have a son who lives in a similar area, and they've not been happy at all. That is just one example, anecdotal, but he has not been happy at all with their subdivision stipulations involved in this. Questions?
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Are there any questions at this time?
Iris Stevens: Will you have the answers to the questions I asked before you do a final okay of this?
City Planner Otis: We will have your answers in just a moment. (But answers to these questions were never forthcoming. In other words we will listen, but we will still do whatever we intended to do.)
Iris Stevens: Thank you.
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Anyone else want to speak?
Lucas: I think this was his name but not sure. My name is ___________. I live 807 ______ not even a mile away from the division and development. I fully support your division and your planned village, but my only concern is for the trees that line the stretch of Greensboro Road where you plan your development. These trees arch over the road and create a beautiful canopy which I dare say does not exist in the city limits of Jonesboro. It would be a tragedy to cut these trees and replace them with a straight line of Bradford Pears so commonly done. Speaking for these trees, I request that you reserve these trees and create not a speed bump but a beauty bump that would actually slow down the drivers that want to relish the moment of this idyllic stretch of road. Obviously these are the words of a super antiquated hippy of the 60's. Thank you.
Halsey, one of Developers: Those are beautiful trees, and we will do everything we can to save them. (Most of the trees on the village area were gone by the next day)
Sheryl Cheshier: My name is Sheryl Cheshier I live at ___________, and my husband and I own the adjoining property. My concern is that sometimes people start these big developments; they don't go as planned; they don't get the tenants in there that they thought would get; and they have to abandon the project with things half finished. There is a development in Western Arkansas where they stopped the development. The houses were in all different stages being built. The developer just left. The insulation from the houses blew all over the neighborhood and just made a big mess for other people's homes that they had paid good money for. There is also a news story in New York. The developer built high-rise luxury condos; they finished a few units; people moved in and then they could not sell more units. They abandoned this thing 90% incomplete. And people who had paid their money to buy their condos couldn't get their money back.
I am also concerned that our property taxes will go up because this old house that we own is almost 60 years old. It is a modest three-bedroom house, small rooms, one bathroom and I am concerned that when they do the property reappraisals they are going to look at the sales of nearby house and our property taxes are going through the roof. The development is actually a detriment if we ever wanted to sell the property. It would be of more value without it. So that is a concern.
I am wondering what guarantees the city has that they are not going to get stuck with a big mess that has got to be completed. And I hope it all turns out great; that would be nice but I think some guarantees need to be made. And I suggest that you'll go ahead and let them have the commercial development and see how that goes before you go ahead and let them have rezoning for anything else. Thank you. [This is the recommendation I, myself, would also make to the city council.]
Jeff Spencer: I am Jeff Spencer. (Not sure name is spelled right) I live at 615 W. Matthews. I would like to say if you had a house you could walk to in this development, it would probably be worth a whole lot and be fairly easy to sell. I am really a very conservative person, believe it or not. It doesn't surprise me if this thing favors Agenda 21. The United States is the world's super power. If they sign on to something like that, it shouldn't be too shocking that they would try to implement some of it. But this is really not a move to anything new or different in my opinion. This is a step back a few thousand years perhaps because this is the way human beings have lived for most of our existence, and I know I was lucky enough to see Pompeii and they are taking the dirt out; and there are public places in there and there are sidewalks - so far no evidence of the United Nations. But having said that, I do have a concern and I would also like to say if you would like to see the great, great grandmother of this development there she is (indicating downtown area). And you've got sidewalks and you've got public places and parks and a library, medical, and all we needs is for people to buy into this and realize this is the real stuff, because as good as this is [the village], you can never replace the architecture around here because you we don't have the materials any more, the stuff is not being drawn, we don't have the craftsman; and it's just very difficult to do and people that know old houses already know that. But my concern is that we have taken our focus off what we already have, and you have got tons of sidewalks right out here. So my question is who is going to maintain the sidewalks and who is going to make me feel better about ours continuing to decay while we are maintaining these here [the village area]. And if there are any builders and developers within the sound of my voice, I hope they will take another look and see how difficult it is to produce some of these houses that some people actually really, really love; and maybe they will start coming back downtown. [One person clapped loudly. It is obvious to me that this person supports Agenda 21 and recognizes the village concept Agenda 21 and wants us to go back to where people walk rather than drive.]
Rick Cheshier: My name is Rick Cheshier; and as my wife said, we own the property just north of this development. My biggest concern is the traffic as it is now and what this will bring into Jonesboro. Highway 49 is one of the major feeders into the city; and if you'll have been out there early in the morning or late in the afternoon, it is tough. I have seen traffic backed up all the way down past the ______ center and when people want to turn onto 351, it's crazy. I don't know how this fits into the plan of the north bypass, but I can very easily see even though it is _______, it's five lanes being feeder into 351 which is pretty tough right now.
So that is one of my biggest concerns as well as what my wife expressed earlier about some of this getting developed and then just kind of being abandoned. I don't know what has happened; I don't know what the long term plan is; if there can be some assurances like bonds posted in case something happens that can be cashed in to fulfill the actual plan with the property or fixing up or restoring property back to a useful state.
So just go out there on 49 at Hilltop and see just how crazy this traffic is. I have seen as late as yesterday someone trying to turn north on a little street right in front of Newk's Eatery out there; and it is plum crazy to see how these people drive trying to turn to get to 351 and how they cut through back behind everything to get in there. So I can see this being a very, very big problem trying to get access in there being created as people leave going up 351 to home, this just adding to the problem so something really needs to be looked at before going too far on this. Thank you.
Lonnie Roberts, Chair Anyone else? If not, Addressing Otis Spriggs. "So how do you want to proceed, is everyone ready for a vote?"
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Certainly, and I think what we will try to do now is try to address some of the questions that have been posed. One I think alluded to earlier was the conversation yesterday in the Pre-Meeting concerning the phasing of the development. What mechanisms would the city have to have some type of comparability or security that the development if it does not come into completion that the city would not be burdened by an overload of uncompleted infrastructure so we bounced that question to Mr. Chuck here [the Developers' presenter] who of course answered it similar to what the gentleman just stated. In terms of mechanisms that we currently have, each phase would be provided as part of the subdivision process. We do have the ability from bonding improvements from a completion standpoint. It was alluded to in the meeting that we could develop some follow up developmental agreement between the city and the developer in terms of what those commitments would be in a timely fashion as noted and to assure that things that do not get completed out don't be left in some form of code enforcement nightmares. So we will be looking for that type of detail as the phases are submitted as part of the final development plan certainly. In the meantime, I think we will be working with the developer to look at areas that have used these development types of agreements as it relates to bonding those improvements and giving the planning commission as well as city council a more complete answer. I don't know if the developers want to elaborate on that approach or if you have any other rebuttal from the questions related to incomplete phasing or infrastructure.
Jerry Halsey, One of the Developers: (did not specifically expound on Otis's questions.) My name is Jerry Halsey of Halsey, Thrasher & Harpole. You know when we started this process a couple years ago, and we did what we thought was right. We included everybody from the city, City, Water and Light; we hired engineers; we've got traffic engineers to make sure that we realized what 200 acres this magnitude of development is going to take. So we have hired all the people that we know to hire, and we have included all the people who have a seat at the table who are going to be putting in that infrastructure to say what do you need, what does it need to look out for the future? And they and we've all put in our comments. Today - we have meetings every day to discuss traffic, to discuss detention and drainage. It changes based on a different scenario; there is nothing in here concrete tonight; we are asking for a rezoning and we are wanting to continue to work; we continue to spend money and looking to develop it. I think it's going to be a wonderful community. It's one that I would actually like to live in; I would like to raise my family in, and we have spent a lot of time and our investors have spent a lot of money to try to get to that point. And regardless of what people think, we are trying to do a good thing for the city of Jonesboro as well as we all have families here. We are raising kids, have grandparents and parents, and we want this place to be a good place to live just like everyone else. A lot of the concerns, the concerns are valid. We are trying to plan around them, and we don't have those answers tonight. We didn't have them two years ago, but we are a lot closer tonight than we were two years ago; and over the process of the next five to ten years, we'll take each development, each phase, and develop it to the best of our ability and to what the market asks. [I know there are restrictions and regulations the developers are supposed to adhere to; but if they don't live up to their obligations, what is the city council going to do when the next phase is presented? Are they going to deny the next phase and leave an area uncompleted?]
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Mr. Halsey, I know there is no real way to answer a question that was raised regarding tax monies spent, type of development. Do you have any comment on that. That was one of the questions raised earlier.
Jerry Halsey, One of the Developers: I don't really have an answer to that. I can tell you right now that the developers are cutting in roads, are roughing in the roads, preparing to put in the sewer. There has been discussion about whether or not there is going to be a state highway that connects Red Wolf Boulevard and 351, and we are in discussions with the Arkansas Highway Department and the city of Jonesboro to help alleviate some of the traffic through our, through this property. I can tell you that the ownership has offered to give 15 acres and do a lot of the work on everybody's behalf so it would be less expensive to expand the state highway. So those are the discussions we are having. I don't know the answers to that. [As I said it appears from their map of the development that the state is going to divert 351 to run through the village and make it a five-lane highway right through the village. See later comment on this by Halsey as well].
City Planner Otis Spriggs: There were also questions raised in terms of the existing problems that could be traffic issues; we made note that you are working on that.
Jerry Halsey, One of the Developers: With or without us, you have traffic problems. [But why add a potential of 2,500 people to the mix of traffic problems]
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Exactly.
Jerry Halsey One of the Developers: And what we are trying to do is to help. We've hired Peters & Associates to come in and do a study. They're looking at our plan; they're looking at the existing surrounding area so that we might be part of the solution; we're not trying to be part of the problem; we are trying to be part of the solution and so far all we've asked for from the city or from utilities is their time to help us plan so that we don't get city or city water & light or the state of Arkansas in a bind. And all through this we've asked people what's your feeling, what do you think, how does this work? I can't tell you how many pieces of paper we've gone through at looking at different designs, and some of you have looked at some of those designs and given input and we've asked for those and we try to take those back to our engineers and implement all those changes so it's a better product so that a lifetime from now that's really a good product, kind of like what you've got behind you. [meaning downtown Jonesboro that was referred to by former speaker]
City Planner Otis Spriggs: In terms of, I think Peterson is working on a plan, Mr. Randy Tolbert, I know that it's in progress and I assume that we can anticipate during the final development stage of your submittal there is phases that we will see some of that detail coming forth then. I guess it would be too immature to comment on that right now?
Randy Tolbert: I'm Randy Tolbert with Peters & Associates and we are the traffic consultant for the project and we are in the midst of working on the traffic impact study. We are doing two phases, one is the whatever is initially completed within the next two years where infrastructure will need to be in place for roadways at satisfactory levels and then also full build out commissions. We have been in contact with the highway department looking at some ideas they have with the city we have some preliminary contact with them as well. I don't want to state anything on the traffic study yet; we should have it completed by the end of this month.
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Okay, thank you. Before I deviate from the infrastructure and traffic questions, are there any questions from the commission to the applicants in regards to what was said earlier.
MAPC Commissioner: Jerry, I've got a question. If this were a government plan by Jonesboro, I would be dead set against it, but since it is an individual plan or an investors' plan, I think anybody ought to have the right to do what they want to with their land. They seem to have a great concept ______, I would hate to be blindsided five years down the road and cost Jonesboro a half a million dollars or so. [It is a private investment, but the city and state and possibly federal government is and will be doing all kinds of things to make the plan work just as the City Planner Otis Spriggs is its most enthusiastic cheerleader. The commissioner is probably not aware of all of that.]
Jerry Halsey One of the Developers: So what is the question? The question is?
MAPC Commissioner: I guess the reassurance that there isn't a black hole out there - that the investors really are doing this for _______(I think the word was profit but not sure.]
Jerry Halsey One of the Developers: The investors are very much capitalists. If they're not going to make a profit, they are probably going to shoot me.
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Okay if we could move forward I think the second part of some of the concerns were related and I think Chuck you can help us with that. There was a question in terms of lack of detail. What we provided was some of the guidelines from the Town Center Overlay in which the developer is given some thresholds in terms of the percentage of residential, the percentage of multifamily, as well as percentage of commercial and I think that mix is described in the document as well as the staff report in terms of those thresholds. In fact on the Master Plan although it is a Master Plan for this development, it does give I think the city some assurance in terms of where the various usages will be located such as single family for example, you would not see okay the developer has trouble developing the single family component and now we want to do commercial. That would not happen with this proposal the way the Overlay would be laid out, and I think you do have that security, correct me if I am wrong. And then there were some questions I think on the style of homes, and I think that detail is here and I think you can answer those questions possibly.
Presenter for Developers: What we tried to do with the design guideline that you have is to create a set of design criteria to address architectural typologies, the form the residential unit would take whether it is a single-family detached unit, single family attached unit all the way to multifamily. You will see in the design criteria we have provided a lot of different design details, everything from style of roofs, types of materials that can be used, position of the dwelling relative to the property lines, all different features, porches, if you're going to have a front loaded garage, how far it needs to be set back off from the side off the front side of the house, if it is a rear loaded unit where you have a garage facing an alley, how does that work. So we try to provide the nuts and bolts on how to build a community. As far the particular architectural style, we tried to provide a lot of latitude for builders to choose material whether it is a masonry product, different type of sidings material, etc. It gives you a pretty good plan. Our hope would be that the residential units themselves provide a good mix of housing choices. As you can see from the Master Plan we have modest size lots along with smaller, rear loaded lots. We also have small front loaded lots as well so again providing a variety of housing we think is also very responsive to the market itself. If you have just large lots, you are only catering to a particular district within the community but by providing a variety, you're providing an array of choices for people to pick the lifestyle they want to have.
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Can you give us the range in terms of price range from the lower end residential to the higher end and I think that might answer some questions in terms of size of property that were raised.
Presenter for Developers: We were not retained to do any type of a market analysis in terms of what the sales price would need to be. Jerry, I don't know if you've done any detailed information on that, but I am not aware of any.
Jerry Halsey One of The Developers: I would suspect the town homes would probably range from anywhere from 1,500 to 5,000 square feet and if you're looking at terms of money, I know that we've talked to some potential buyers who have said they want to do some customs and they told us they intend to spend at least $300.00 per square foot on their homes. So that's the amount they told us they told us they wanted to spend. At the end of the day they will have a shell basically to go in and build out and then build in the amenities the way that they choose to build it out. [The normal rate is more like $100 a square foot. I believe, if I have done my math correctly, that a 1,500 square foot dwelling would cost over $400 thousand dollars, and a 5,000 square foot would cost over a million dollars.]
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Are there any questions from the commission in regard to that, regarding the type of uses that have been proposed and the amount of detail you've been provided?
Citizen: Mr. Chairman (think this is question from audience) , I would just like to remind the staff that there was a question about city water and light , their incurring additional costs, etc. I'm sure Mr. Halsey can clarify that real quick.
Halsey: We have had numerous meetings with city, water, and light. They have requested a lot of information about our loads and what we would anticipate. I do know that we are putting our infrastructure in, and they are planning their future infrastructure accordingly. As you know, they just built the hospital a little bit down the road from us; and they have discussed with us the anticipated and the load requirements there. So we are working with them on a regular basis. I can tell you we are paying for our utilities to be put in. The rules that city, water, and light have for all the developers are applying to us and we are just following their rules.
Citizen Question: And what's the cost of the running foot? _________question not sure this is exact words.
Jerry Halsey One of the Developers: It's expensive.
Citizen Comment: Yes, we have a local authority on this, Mr. Reece, who is retired from City, Water, & Light, even writing a book on this; but I want to hear it from you, that it is not a free ride.
Jerry Halsey, One of the Developers: There are opportunities that city, water and light would like to upgrade as you move forward so that they don't have to go back and redo the infrastructure so we are working with them so that it is (cough cut out the sound - may be expedient that he says ) for us to put ours in and for them to plan for the future. [Is there a hidden problem here, possible good ole boy system at work with city, water, and light?]
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Are there any other commissioners' questions?
City Planner Otis Spriggs: The other question raised by a resident would be the corridor of Greensborough, and I think they have a legitimate concern about that being a historical corridor for that particular area with the tree-lined streets. You've shown the corridors of tree line, but the corridors are enhanced in Greensborough. What is your concept of Greensborough?
Jerry Halsey, One of the Developers: Have you driven that lately?
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Yes
Jerry Halsey One of the Developers: It is beautiful. I mean those trees are absolutely gorgeous, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure they stay there. (Almost all the trees in the village area were gone the next morning - they could have possibly been talking about an area of the village of which I am unaware.)
City Planner Otis Spriggs: I'm just fielding through the questions that I've noted. Anyone can interject any that you have.
Lonnie Roberts, Chair. What about the not being in control of the taxing situation. Anyone want to comment on that? The surrounding property owners?
City Planner Otis Spriggs. I don't know that there is any rules that we would have (Lonnie interrupts and says on county issues) to control anyone approving property that would affect another property next to it if it were increased in value. But if you were proposing a detriment, I think that is a different term.
MAPC Commissioner: Otis, I guess for the benefit of some of the people here, do you think there is some merit in explaining to them what the overall process is again; this is just a request for rezoning has to go to the city council. This body may see future documents that are prepared. Tonight is not the end of the process.
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Yes, what is being proposed here is an overlay district that is being recommended, and the planning commission is of course providing the public with the process to get into it. It is your job to send this proposal to council, I think, with a complete recommendation and a finding of fact that we evaluated the ordinance in terms of its applicability to it and we feel as though the plan is in the spirit and intent of that concept. What would happen from the standpoint, the property would be rezoned to the district, attached to it by reference would be the Pattern Book as well as the Master Plan which would guide the phasing of the project so the details that we are talking about tonight; the accountability from the public will be taken care of in the final development standpoint as we present the various phases. All the questions from transportation will be answered; you will be given the engineering drawing as relates to the structure, traffic manipulations that have been coordinated by the highway department, our MPO and engineering staff and all of the questions regarding the zoning will be outlined in more detail at that point.
So council will abide by ordinance of the overlay district with the conditions listed as recommended by staff are approved by the planning commission with further conditions to council that will be inscribed in the ordinances that will go through three readings so the public will have the opportunity to appear before the council to add to the record any other concerns. So if it's adopted by council, it comes back to you in individual stages, individual private development plans per and by phase.
MAPC Commissioner: And the public would have when those come back - the public I am assuming would have the ability to come and review those and offer comments.
City Planner Otis Spriggs: All of those would be disclosed to the public by agenda and then there will be an opportunity for them to review those plans and give comments until the final development plan process.
MAPC Commissioner: Mr. Chairman, At the risk of being redundant, I want to take this one more step for explanation. Tying this to Agenda 21 - we heard a couple people comment about that - , this is one project they're asking to rezone; they're going to assume the risk that the Town Center Overlay District will work. We are not going to recommend to the council that they change existing codes that all future subdivisions have to comply with the Town Center Overlay District. This is just one project; there is a term in real estate that most brokers, Jerry will know what this word is; it's situs. And situs is the purpose people have to live in a specific or certain area; and time will prove whether or not this project is something that the public wants. But when you consider statistics today about problems with obesity, diabetes, heart problems, pulmonary problems, arthritic problems, people need to walk and exercise and I think this will attract a large number of people. I know when my wife and I retired, it was important to us that we stay active; and I have never felt better in my life since we have started walking and eating more correctly and this type of thing. So to some existing adults they may not make the transition; but if you rear a child in this type of environment and in this type of a neighborhood; and they are acclimated in an early age to walking down to the grocery store to pick up a stick of butter, a loaf of bread, a container of milk, if they are acclimated to walking down to the department store, etc. I see this as a good habit for them to develop, but this is one project. It is not a rewrite of the Jonesboro city code. [It was noted later by a citizen that according to the developers' map that a five-lane boulevard runs through the village separating the residential area from the commercial; therefore, for the child to run to the store to pick up something, he would have to cross a five-lane boulevard to do so - not so pedestrian friendly after all. A presenter for the developers acknowledged the five-lane boulevard running through the center of the village by pointing out there would be pedestrian safety measures put in place. See below]
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Anything else. Does anyone else have any questions?
Connie Needham: My name is Connie Needham. How many people do you see as a capacity to live there?
Halsey: It will be home to two to twenty five hundred people.
Connie Needham: (Chair asks her name and address for the record) I live in Bono, _______, Bono. My question is, what is the unit size of these homes, the smallest one? [There has been some concern over the size of the units because Agenda 21 proponents are touting smaller units, as small as 200 square feet (smaller than my garage) and especially 600 to 800 square feet. I did not know this person, but I am sure that is the point she was trying to make]
Jerry Halsey One of the Developers: I don't have that.
Connie Needham: You've done this before.
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Please address the commission.
Connie Needham: They've built these before; they know about them so what's the smallest unit of the ones you've built before.
Jerry Halsey, One of the Developers: We haven't done this before.
Rick Cheshier: (comes back to the mic and asked them to put the developers' map back up on the screen and says, Okay, they have raised a couple of questions that I am curious about. First of all, what she asked, do the math on the acreage. What is the acreage where you are going to put the residential area?
Jerry Halsey One of the Developers: answers 86 acres:
Rick Cheshier: So 2,500 people on 86 acres. Okay the other question I have. Is that a replat of 351? Are you going to ask them to abandon where 351 is and put 351 through there? [the village]
Jerry Halsey One of the Developers: That's not our decision.
Rich Cheshier: But if you do, would you not be separating all the residential from this nice business quaint type village effect that you are trying to do, a five-lane road through there.
Halsey One of the Developers: Not if it is designed correctly.
Rick Cheshier: Not if it is designed correctly. As I said, I see the traffic out there and it gets pretty tough if you are going to try to walk and go somewhere out there it would be very similar to trying to cross 49 right now so as I said my concern is trying in the traffic that it is going to empty back into there. So that is kind of what I understand. You are doing a traffic study and you don't really know how that road is going to be just yet so it is going to separate the residential from business.
Jerry Halsey One of the Developers: Not entirely.
Rick Cheshier: Not entirely, it looks like it starts and ends so how could it not entirely separate it. You've got one major road for residential coming in to go into the town central.
Developers' Representative. For the record, as far as the gentleman's question, the five-lane boulevard section that we are envisioning will also have controlled intersections; those intersections could include a number of different traffic calming measures, _________traffic signalization, pedestrian crosswalks, etc. all protecting the pedestrian flow that may occur between the residential area and the town center itself. That will be a very important consideration in the design of any type of road sections. You want to make sure it provides the pedestrian crossings you are making from one part of the community to the other. That is all I have. [Isn't this an admission that the five-lane road (probably the diverted 351) runs right through the village and separates the residential from the commercial?
City Planner Otis Spriggs: And just for the record that was one of the concerns I think of the engineering department - we talked about this in the pre-meeting. The applicant has agreed to go in and look at the cross section for the five-lane arterial to go through there and that detail is forthcoming as well. I just wanted to make that observation. [Interesting that he did not bring this up before the public brought it up. Also it shows how much time the developers get to spend with city employees as compared to the public's input.]
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: Any questions?
City Planner Otis Spriggs: We recommend that you close the debate and then
Lonnie Roberts, Chair: I was going to say all these issues are going to be looked at on the final site plan so at this time do any commissioners have any questions on the rezoning? Is anyone ready to make a motion.
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Do we need to read those conditions? Lonnie says yes and Otis reads the conditions very rapidly as follows:
• That the proposed development shall satisfy all requirements of the city engineer and all requirements of the current Stormwater Drainage Design Manual.
• A final site plan subject to all ordinance requirements shall be submitted, reviewed and approved by the MAPC prior to any development of the subject property.
• A final site plan showing coordination is required of all rights-of-ways and egress-ingress with the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, Metropolitan Planning Organization, City Engineering Department and the Planning Deptartment. Coordinated access management design details shall be submitted by the applicant for MAPC review and approval for other abutting commercial-residential mixed-use properties.
• The setbacks, building heights, screening and site design standards are required per the Master Plan and Design Pattern Book, as approved by reference.
• The site shall be developed under the Town Center, TC-Overlay District rezoning with uses permitted as summarized in the staff report and approved by the MAPC.
• Common open space shall comprise a minimum of 15 percent of the total land area.
• Single family residential subdivision lots shall be developed subject to MAPC subdivision review and approval.
• A range of 50 to 70 percent of the total land area devoted to residential use within the development shall be developed as single-family detached and attached (excluding multi-family).
• Multifamily (excluding single-family attached) may occupy a range of 30 to 50 percent of the total land area devoted to residential uses.
• For residential uses, such as lofts above ground floor retail or office located within the non-residential or mixed-use land area of the Town Center, there shall be no prescribed minimum or maximum acreage or units. Design and form layout shall be consistent with the approved master plan.
The vote was unanimous for approval which now goes before the city council for final and third reading September 16, 2014.
My Suggestion. I suggest that the city council vote to leave the zoning as is and let the developers proceed in any plans that fit the present zoning. They could come back in later years after they have developed the commercial that is already zoned commercial and present their plan again. A city councilman at the first reading of this issue before the city, August 19, 2014, asked some relevant questions on this topic and specifically asked the city planner if the commercial and the residential could progress without rezoning: The answer was Yes. See discussion below. Debbie Pelley
City Council Member: One other quick question, Otis. As the land is right now, it is zoned commercial, correct? The highway frontage?
City Planner Otis Spriggs: The highway frontage as you recall (Could not understand what he said)
City Council Member: The rest of the 200 acres is residential. Today without any rezoning the commercial and the residential could progress?
City Planner Otis Spriggs: Components of it could, to answer your question, yes.
Posted by Women Action Group September 4, 2014
Posted by Women Action Group September 4, 2014