Thursday, March 19, 2015

2008 article by Joe Neal documents value of seasonal wetland west of 112 drive-n


Joe Neal offers strict view of reasons not to reroute Arkasnas 112 through Hoskins' wetland

To all --

I have stated repeatedly and to anyone who listens that the widespread
lower elevation fields in that entire area are "seasonal wetlands,"
whether or not they meet the Corps of Engineer standards. Therefore, I
am opposed to their development. Every development in such habitats
has a clear, negative and measurable impact on the environment. From
an administrative view, they further burden the upper Clabber Creek
watershed. I know that, in these opinions, I am an unreasonable
person. But the truth is the truth, and I have not spent my adult life
as a biologist to ignore my training & experience in order to just get

"For the record," and especially for anyone who cares at this point, I
cannot visualize any compelling public interest for the
relocation/straightening of 112. The City of Fayetteville has in
recent years wisely adopted a clear and far-sighted policy of passive
speed controls on streets used for "cut throughs" and other
opportunities to accelerate traffic speed. The amount of money saved
in law enforcement probably can't be accurately measured; the safety
achieved by such reductions also are hard to measure; however, both
are hard realities. The historical bends in 112 nicely fits and
supports this passive policy. It is not in the interest of the
citizens of Fayetteville to accelerate traffic speeds on 112,
especially since Fayetteville and Tontitown the max allowed speed is
45 MPH now. I understand why such changes might be of benefit to the
developers in that area, but the changes would not be in the general
public interest. -Joe

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas. "Nature is already as good
as it possibly can be. He who seeks to improve it will spoil it. He
who tries to direct it will mislead it and become lost himself." --
Chinese philosopher about 2,500 years ago

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War over rezoning of land west of 112 drive-in continues as rezoning proposed by city staff


Bruce Shackleford offers view of inadvisability of rerouting Arkansas 112 across Hoskins' wetland

I am not sure about all of the particulars of property lines associated with the proposed 112 reroute, nor have I ever seen the proposed alignment of the 112 reroute, but I do know that the majority of the property near Clabber Creek between Highway 112 and Dean Solomon Road is existing and/or former wetland prairie. The distance between 112 and Dean Solomon is approximately 3,300 linear feet.

One of our WSIP sewer lines extends along the north side of Clabber Creek in this area and borders the southern edge of the Park West property. Prairies/wetlands are not the only concerns/considerations in the decision-making process for the 112 reroute. There are other matters to think about, that may create potential liabilities for the City when entering a "cost-share" agreement for this project, as described below:

1) There are two spring runs in the vicinity of (or perhaps within) the Park West boundaries. One is approximately 975 linear feet west of 112, and the other is approximately 2,325 linear feet west of 112. These two spring runs function ecologically much the same as the Wilson Springs runs, and provide seasonal habitat for the Arkansas darter, as shown by a survey conducted by USFWS several years ago. Impacts to darter habitat have been controversial for the City in the past. Will the proposed 112 reroute have a permanent adverse impact to darter habitat and stir this pot again?

For those who are not aware, the Arkansas darter (Etheostoma cragini) is a small fish (2 to 3 inches long) that inhabits the upper reaches of Clabber Creek. It has been designated as an Arkansas Species of Concern by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, listed as a fish of Special Concern by the American Fisheries Society and is a Candidate Species for federal listing as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

One of our sewer lines crossed these two spring runs and one of the wetlands. I wrote the specifications whereby the contractor was required to cross these spring runs during June through December when we knew the darter would not be there. During this time of the year, the darter stays within the immediate vicinity of the springs, including Wilson Springs, and the springs on the north side of Clabber Creek. Studies have shown that it migrates down the spring runs at times between January and May to spawn in Clabber Creek. Has the 112 reroute considered such self-imposed seasonal construction periods as we did on the WSIP, and is this practicable for a highway project?

2) There are jurisdictional wetlands throughout the area between 112 and Dean Solomon, including the Park West property. In fact, I have seen the 404 permit that requires compensatory wetland mitigation for the Park West development. For sewer lines, we do the design whereby wetlands are restored and put back to pre-construction conditions. This is achievable because the sewer lines are underground. This is not so easy to do for permanent surface structures, such as a highway.

Obviously, a highway project that spans jurisdictional wetlands will necessitate wetland compensatory mitigation. Will the 112 reroute involve permanent alterations to wetlands? If so, where will the mitigation site be located? Who will pay for the design, construction, and long-term monitoring of the wetland mitigation and the 404 permit application process? With the City paying for a portion of the project, the City will likely be required to be a co-permittee with Park West for the 404 permit issued by the Corps. If the mitigation does not comply with 404 permit requirements, is the City aware that they may be liable for enforcement action/monitory penalties and/or corrective actions? What controls will the City have during construction to assure 404 permit requirements will be met?

3) The ADEQ stormwater permit for construction activities (ARR150000) will be required for the 112 reroute. Due to changes in Reg 6 three years ago, ADEQ no longer allows contractors to be stormwater permittees. It is ADEQ's policy that the party(ies) with ultimate financial control of a regulated project shall be the permittee(s) who are responsible for compliance. If ADEQ makes the City a joint stormwater permittee with Park West, how much construction management control will the City have? Has the City explored the possibility that as a co-permittee they may be liable for enforcement action/monitory penalties and/or corrective actions if the project is not managed to be in compliance with stormwater permit requirements?

The involvement of a third party (i.e. contractor) further complicates matters. Speaking from experience, it is always a challenge to make the contractor do what they are supposed to do to keep the permittee from having violations. If this is not addressed from the beginning within the contract documents, then the permittee has little leverage to make the contractor follow regulatory requirements. When the permittee tries to do so after the fact, there will always be change orders that add to the cost of the project.

What control will the City have over the environmental specification language within the contract documents to hold the contractor's feet to the fire for this type of work within such an environmentally sensitive area?

It is always more efficient and cost-effective to avoid going into the "damage control mode" by staying in the "problem prevention mode".

Just some food for thought that I wanted to bring to the table.........


Bruce Shackleford, M.S., REM, REPA
President, Environmental Consulting Operations, Inc.
17724 I-30, Suite 5A
Benton, Arkansas 72019
"Integrating ECOnomy and ECOlogy, since 1990"
office: 501-315-9009
mobile: 501-765-9009

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Seven-year-old story from March 2, 2008, NWA Times features varied opinion on use of wetland west of Arkansas 112 Drive-in

Developer proposes change to Arkansas 112 roadway
BY MARSHA L. MELNICHAK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Sunday, March 2, 2008

Rerouting Arkansas 112 on the west side of Fayetteville may be a good solution as far as traffic flow, but city and state officials are wondering what that solution would cost.
Some city residents are also concerned about the environmental cost.
Park West developer Tracy Hoskins of Paradigm Companies is sending up a test balloon. He wants to know if city officials are interested in rerouting Arkansas 112 west of Interstate 540. He said the proposal will cost the city less overall than fixing the existing highway and that he has met or exceeded environmental requirements.
"We specifically designed the route to avoid every single solitary environmentally sensitive feature," he said.
The alignment he proposes would cut across Park West, a 106-acre development approved by the city in 2006.
Beginning at the bridge over Clabber Creek just north of Sam's Wholesale Club and sweeping northwest for about a mile, it would connect into the existing Arkansas 112 at the northwest corner of the Belclaire Subdivision. (Heading southbound, from the north, this is the first curve coming into Fayetteville on Arkansas 112. )
"We're just improving dangerous conditions," Jim Ramsey, architect for Paradigm Companies, said.
He said the proposal would remove two 90-degree turns: one dangerous intersection of Deane Solomon Road and the east-west portion of Arkansas 112 and the other at the 90-degree corner of Arkansas 112 and Howard Nickell Road.
"Anybody who's driven out there knows just how dangerous that is," Ramsey said. Hoskins also argues that the change offers an economic development advantage to the city because of the possibility of more commercial development on both sides of the new roadway. The developer presented his proposal at a Ward 4 meeting and again at a city Street Committee meeting last week.
Is it worth it ? Lioneld Jordan, Ward 4 Alderman and chairman of the city Street Committee, brought discussion to a quick halt after learning no cost estimates were available for committee consideration.
"It's worth looking at again," he said but not until there are numbers to go with the proposal.
Jordan and other committee members asked city staff to bring cost estimates to the next Street Committee meeting in about a month.
"I think it looks like a viable solution as far as traffic flow. I just want to really compare the cost," Ward 1 Alderman and Street Committee member Brenda Thiel said.
"I think it's certainly something we ought to look at. We need to look at, if it's going to cost us a lot more, is it really worth it ? "she said.
Gary Dumas, director of operations, said city engineers will come up with a preliminary estimate for the Street Committee's next meeting.
"The issue is going to be how to pay for it," he said.
Jonathan Barnett, chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission, too, saw a safety value and a cost question.
"It looks like a good proposal, and it certainly has merit," he said. "I think we're all trying to figure out how we're going to pay for it, but it's definitely a good proposal."
Barnett said he thought it looked good because "it straightens out a couple curves "and would widen the road.
He also thought it would help the city.
"Hopefully, they're looking at some potential development out that way - maybe a school system, maybe some other things - and obviously that would be good for the city of Fayetteville as economic development," he said.
$ 4 million Dumas estimated the city has about $ 4 million programmed for future improvements on Arkansas 112 from north of I-540 to Van Asche Drive. He anticipates the proposed roadway would cost more because it is longer and wider. "I think it's definitely more, but we don't know what that number is," Dumas said. But, Hoskins argues that the $ 4 million is slated only for the section of Arkansas 112 between Sam's Wholesale Club and the first 90-degree corner at Van Asche. In future stages of the bond program, there will be several million dollars more that will need to be spent from the corner at Van Asche east to Arkansas 112 at Howard Nickell Road.
"If they keep (Arkansas ) 112 as it is, 100 percent of the cost will be borne by the taxpayers of Fayetteville, where, in my proposal, it would be a public-private partnership.
"Probably, in the long run, not only is this a much better idea, it promotes economic growth, it costs the taxpayers considerably less money and it will be done sooner," he said.
Environmental costs Not everyone agrees. Aubrey Shepherd, a Fayetteville resident, said Hoskins should give the property to the state or to some conservation entity rather than build anything on it. "This is land of a quality that should not be paved over or developed over," he said. "I'm very much against the road. "Joe Neal describes himself as a biologist and a longtime crusader for seasonal wetlands. "It (the Arkansas 112 proposal ) makes engineering sense if you already buy into the idea that the seasonal wetlands are disposable," he wrote in an email after seeing a drawing of the proposal.
In an earlier tour of the land, Neal told Hoskins none of the property should be developed.
"Every bit of it is seasonal wetlands - every bit of it except the upland portion by Deane Solomon," Neal said, admitting that his idea of no development is pretty unrealistic. "Every bit of it you can save is good."
Dot Neely of the Ozark Headwaters Group of the Sierra Club said paving the area could cause changes in stream flow and other hydrological changes.
However, she said that to be realistic, growth is inevitable.
"The best thing to do is to do nothing and walk away from the site and to donate it as a wetland prairie area for educational purposes. But, if the powers that be are going to insist on making changes out there, that it is done with the utmost sensitivity," she said.
Getting advice from environmental experts and following it would be important.
"The question becomes how to minimize the impact while making it economically viable and still protected," Neely said.
Hoskins said he is being sensitive to the environment.
"We have already delineated the wetlands, and we have Corps of Engineers approval," he said.
The proposed road crosses a drainage area for the pond on the property to the north of Park West at a position previously approved by the Corps of Engineers for an earlier Park West design.
He said the "bottom" (or south side ) of the site, which is just above the Audubon Arkansas wetlands will be used for parks, bioswales, rain gardens and walking trails.
"Contrar y to popular opinion, the only perennial wetlands on site are at the far southeast corner of the site. They lie between the previously described ditch and the existing (Arkansas ) 112 along the south property line," he said.
Letters from state and federal agencies support his statements.
A March 18, 2005, letter from the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, states," This ditch does not support an Arkansas darter population. "It defines, among other factors, where springs arise, what buffers must be incorporated into design and what management practices, such as silt fences, will be necessary.
"This protection, enhancement and construction of wetlands and buffer zones will not only minimize threats to the Arkansas darter and water quality but should increase the aesthetic values of the project area," the Fish and Wildlife letter states.
Hoskins also has a permit to discharge stormwater from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and a permit from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers for Park West property.
Jordan said he has concerns about the environmentally sensitive nature of the property.
"I want to be sure that ever ything is just so-so because that's been a pretty controversial piece of property up in there," he said. "At face value, it could be OK, but I want to be very careful. I want to be sure we're not getting into any wetlands, just to be sure."

"We have to all come together. Quality of life has to be factored into the economics of growth," Neely said.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Legislative action to reduce watershed protection

Stricken language would be deleted from and underlined language would be added to present law.
SECTION 1. Arkansas Code Title 14, Chapter 1, is amended to add an additional subchapter to read as follows:
Subchapter 4 - Landowner Tree Maintenance Protection Act
      14-1-401.  Title.
This subchapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Landowner Tree Maintenance Protection Act".
      14-1-402.  Findings and legislative intent.
(a) The General Assembly finds that the right to own, use, and enjoy private property:
            (1)  Is protected by the Arkansas Constitution and the United
States Constitution;
(2) Is a hallmark of Arkansas and American society, deeply
*DLP112* 02-26-2015 12:52:16 DLP112

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
embedded in the fabric of both urban and rural societies; and
(3) Should be protected from undue interference by state and

local government.
(b) It is the intent of the General Assembly by this act to preserve

and protect the property rights of citizens by ensuring that state, county, and local government does not prohibit a landowner from cutting down, trimming, or removing the landowner's trees, bushes, or shrubs.
      14-1-403.  Definitions.
      As used in this subchapter:
            (1)  "Landowner" means:
                  (A)  An individual who owns real property; and
                  (B)  The authorized agents of an individual who owns real
property; and
(2) "Tree Maintenance" means cutting down, trimming, or removing

a tree, bush, or shrub.
14-1-404. County and municipal ordinances restricting tree maintenance prohibited Exceptions.
(a) A county, city, or town shall not restrict by ordinance or otherwise the right of a landowner to perform tree maintenance on the landowner's property.
(b) Subsection (a) of this section does not permit a landowner to perform tree maintenance on the landowner's property if the tree maintenance on the landowner's property would violate:
(1) A real property covenant or deed restriction;
(2) A bill of assurance; or
(3) A requirement or restriction imposed by a homeowner's

association, a property owner's association, or a similar organization whether imposed by a duly recorded master deed and bylaws or otherwise.
      14-1-405.  Conflicting ordinances repealed.
      An ordinance of a county, city, or town that conflicts with this
subchapter is repealed to the extent of the conflict.
2 02-26-2015 12:52:16 DLP112 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pipeline spills frequent

Another day, another gas pipeline bursts—this time in West Virginia, about an hour away from Pittburgh and near the Ohio River.
A number of residents have said they saw what appeared to be a large fireball burning in the sky.
Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson said the explosion is near the former riding stables on Archer Hill Road in Colliers, WV. Jackson said no injuries have been reported and no structural damage has occurred, but several area roads have been closed because of burning gas.
It appears only one home was evacuated and the fire eventually burnt off. At least one home and one power line has been damaged. There were no injuries. The cause of the explosion is still unknown.
Authorities shut off power in the area of Arch Hill Road in Colliers, WV, with some residents receiving their power through a substation.
Follansbee Fire Chief Larry Rea said the weather helped the fire from becoming more of a problem.
Enterprise Products, L.P., said they are working with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to determine the cause of the explosion. The company said in a statement that they did notice a pressure drop earlier in the day prior to the explosion.
The gas line will not be in operation again until PHMSA gives their approval.
This is the fourth major pipeline incident that's occurred this month. In Montana, a 50,000 gallon spill resulted in cancer-causing chemicals leaking into residents' drinking water.
But move along, folks. Nothing to see here.
More video of the explosion at WTRF.



Monday, January 19, 2015

Open-space preservation study begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at Fayetteville AR public library

Preserving open space focus of study

Posted: January 19, 2015 at 1:03 a.m.
Opportunities to be outdoors contribute substantially to the livability and quality of life in Northwest Arkansas and regional planners want to make sure open spaces are preserved for public use as the region grows.
Two public input sessions are set, one Tuesday in Fayetteville and a second Wednesday in Bentonville, to kick off a year-long regional open space study.
At A Glance
Open Up for Open Space
Here’s how you can participate in an open space study being conducted by the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission:
• Public Workshops: Tuesday at the Fayetteville Public Library, or Wednesday at the Bentonville Public Library. Both are drop-in from 4 to 7 p.m. with the goal of introducing the project and hearing from the public about what they value most in terms of open space.
• Project Website: Learn more about the project background, benefits of open space, and why this plan is important. Find links to the comment form, input map, and other project resources. Visit the site throughout 2015 for project updates.
• Online Input Map: What are your favorite open spaces in Northwest Arkansas? Use this map to drop points describing your favorite places and see what others have listed:
• Online Comment Form: Tell regional planners what you value most in terms of open space. Direct link:
For more information contact: Elizabeth Bowen, Project Manager, NWA Regional Planning Commission, 1311 Clayton St., Springdale, Ark., 72762; Office: 479-751-7125; Fax: 479-751-7150;
Source: Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission
"It is the intent of the plan to focus on identifying natural open space assets, analyzing and assessing those assets and developing potential strategies for conserving those resources for the use of current and future generations," according to a Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission resolution.
A $350,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation will pay the cost of the study.
"We really need people to come out and tell us what makes Northwest Arkansas a special place to them and what natural spaces are important to them," said John McLarty, a senior planner at the commission. "How often do they enjoy the outdoor activities, what do they do, where are their favorite places to go?"
Planners estimate Benton and Washington counties will have about three-quarters of a million people by 2040.
"We're going to continue to grow," McLarty said. "We need to keep these areas that are attracting people to this area now so that people won't be leaving in 2040. We want to preserve those assets and the quality of life."
Examples of open space include the regional trail system, national forests, state and national parks, wildlife management areas, rivers and areas around Beaver Lake, University of Arkansas agricultural property, city parks, properties held in trust and land owned by private nonprofit groups.
"This is very people-centered," McLarty said. "This is for the use of people."
John Pennington, executive director of the Beaver Watershed Alliance, said having open space is also important to preserving water quality in the region. Beaver Lake is the primary water source for most of the 500,000 residents in the region.
"The rapid population growth and the development associated with it can have a negative effect," Pennington said. "Working farms, working forests, old cemeteries, parks and recreation areas all help hold the water from rushing into the rivers and washing pollutants into Beaver Lake."
Pennington, who's also on the study's steering committee, said people need to turn out and let planners know about areas they think are important and would like to see protected.
"Some people know of a spot hardly anyone else knows about," Pennington said. "Those places could end up as a parking lot or a subdivision."
Elizabeth Bowen, project manager on the study, said there will be information available at the sessions about the project and schedule, growth in the region and the benefits of open space. She will have maps showing outdoor recreation areas, population densities, natural resources, the built environment and land uses.
Those attending can also identify on maps the outdoor areas they like to use, participate in a written survey and tell planners what areas they'd like to see protected.
Aubrey Shepherd, a member of the Ozark Headwaters Group and Arkansas Sierra Club executive committees, said he thinks all the environmental conservation groups in the region will get involved in the project.
"It's a good thing and it can make a big difference in the future," Shepherd said. "With growth coming, it needs to be done with the least possible impact on the land, water quality, air quality and quality of life of all species, including human beings."
The resulting plan will be incorporated into the region's long-term master plan.
The regional planning resolution accepting the grant says livability and quality of life initiatives are important to future economic development in Northwest Arkansas. A stated goal of the Walton Family Foundation is to preserve a sense of place.
McLarty said there was an open space plan for the area in 1970 but it hasn't been updated because there wasn't enough discretionary money available. The commission had been looking for money to do the study for awhile and the foundation's grant made it possible.
Some recognized benefits to preserving open space in communities include creating a high quality of life that attracts tax-paying businesses and residents; stimulating commercial growth and promoting city revitalization; boosting local economies by attracting tourists and supporting outdoor recreation, floodplain protection; proecting agricultural land to safeguard the future of farming economies and communities; and, safeguarding drinking water and clean air.
NW News on 01/19/2015