Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Washington County Takes Action to Limit Density Near Cities

The Washington County Quorum Court voted November 9, 2006, to implement new zoning requirements near its cities. Because the new ordinance received the nine votes required in order to pass and by invoking the emergency clause, it became effective immediately.

Pros and Cons

Numerous discussions and proposals have been held in past months. As is usual in these matters, citizens held varying opinions on the subject.

Those in favor of limiting density cited lack of infrastructure, particularly fire protection. Rural fire departments have limitations by their very nature and high-density developments pose many problems. Lack of schools and high traffic on country roads were other major limiting factors. A desire to maintain the rural atmosphere also appeared to be a high priority item. Without zoning regulations, there was no way to stop apartment buildings or red-dirt pits from springing up next door to an existing farmhouse.

People against the vote, at least at this time, said more time should have been devoted to public discussion. Some were against zoning restrictions of any type because they don’t like being told what they can do with their land. That is the very reason they chose to live outside city limits. Owners of acreage felt that the new regulations would negatively impact the value of their land. One citizen voiced concern that the regulations were intended to keep less affluent people from being able to buy a starter home in the area.

Regardless, guesswork about when and how the Quorum Court might act have ended. The regulations are now law.

The Bottom Line

Any proposed development that did not have preliminary approval by November 9 is subject to the new ordinance.

The ordinance establishes zoning areas within two miles of larger cities and within one mile of smaller towns. Development in those areas is limited to agricultural uses and single-family homes, which must be situated on at least one acre of land. The larger cities are Fayetteville, Springdale, Farmington, Prairie Grove, West Fork and Lincoln. The smaller cities are Elkins, Elm Springs, Goshen, Johnson, Greenland, and Tontitown.

No action was taken to establish zoning outside the one- and two-mile limits around existing cities.

Certain commercial corridors such as U.S. 412 and sections of U.S. 71, U.S. 62 and Arkansas 16 will be exempt from the ordinance. The exempted area will extend 300 feet from the centerline of the highway.

Only One Other Arkansas County Has Similar Rules

Crittendon County adopted a master use plan in 1974, but it was basically ignored for years until being used again in 2005, according to Crittendon County officials.

It is interesting to note that Benton County was unsuccessful in its efforts to pass zoning ordinances a couple of years ago.

Wiggle Room

The new ordinance also created a Zoning Board of Adjustment, which can approve conditional use permits if the development is deemed compatible with the surrounding area. The Board will require a written application and fee plus notification to neighboring property owners that a variance is under consideration. The Board will determine whether the proposed use is compatible with the area and whether or not it appears to be detrimental to the area or a danger to the public. The proposed use must also not interfere with surrounding property owner's enjoyment of their land.

Currently, a permit is not required to build a single-family home as long as it will be on at least one acre and no land splits are involved. The Quorum Court has a proposal under consideration that would require a permit in the future. The proposal will have its second reading in December and its third and final reading in January 2007.

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