A disturbing glance at what Little Rock’s water supply may become
Driving out Highway 10 toward Pinnacle Mountain conjures either visions of either money or suburban sprawl, depending on one’s views of development in West Little Rock.
Following the city’s annexation of Deltic Timber Corporation’s 4,700-acre Chenal Valley development (2,180 acres in January 1989, 615 acres in January 1991, 712 acres in July 1997 and 1,230 acres in November 1999), Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist John Brummett called the debate a culture war between those wanting Little Rock to grow for the sake of growth and those convinced that “westward expansion serves the elite and represents cultural, political and economic neglect of the troubled old city.”
Until recently, growth beat nay-sayers hands down as expansion has been viewed as inevitable due to money flowing into city coffers. In November 1999, city developers claimed that for a little more than $276,000 annually, the last Chenal Valley annexation would generate nearly $1.5 million annually.
The city Planning Commission voted 7-3 against that annexation because of impact analyses lacking details of future effects on everything from property tax revenue to public transportation problems. Abiding by Arkansas Code Annotated 14-56-412, the commission took seriously its duty to “make comprehensive studies of the present conditions and the probable future growth of the municipality and its neighboring territory.” Not that it mattered.
Right before Thanksgiving that year, the Little Rock Board of Directors voted 7-4 to approve the annexation, following a trend of disregarding the Planning Commission’s recommendations. A month before the vote, Mayor Jim Dailey commented to the Democrat-Gazette about the fourth Chenal Valley annexation in particular, though he could as easily have been talking about any Little Rock annexation.
“It’s going to take some sort of revelation from heaven to make me change my mind on (annexation),” Dailey said.
Apparently, God called. Continue reading