FARMINGTON -- Residents living outside the city limits but in Farmington's one-mile growth area on Bethel Black Road implored city officials Monday to help them fight a proposal for a developer to build and operate an indoor gym for baseball and basketball training and weekend tournaments.
Another group of citizens approached Farmington City Council the same night concerned about flooding in Valley View subdivision and asking the city to see if it could help alleviate future problems.
The only action at the March 11 City Council meeting was to appoint members to the Farmington Library Board: Betty Hummel, Linda Morrow, LaDeanna Mullinix, Anita Sampley, Phyllis Shaw, Regina Sherwood, Jill Simpson.
Washington County Planning Board approved a conditional use permit for the Elevate Elite Training Academy at its Feb. 14 meeting. Manuel and Clarice Whitmore submitted the request for a facility that would be located on 25 acres of land in an area zoned agriculture and single-family residential (one unit per acre).
According to the proposal, training hours would be 3 p.m. to the last scheduled practice at 9 p.m. Tournaments would be held twice a month during June, July and August.
The board's decision has been appealed to the Quorum Court by Chester Ellis and Peggy Patterson, who live at 13042 Bethel Blacktop Road.
Monday night, neighbors said the appeal would be heard at the March 21 Quorum Court meeting, but Tuesday morning, the county attorney's office said the appeal would be on the agenda of the court's April 18 meeting because of the requirement to notify adjacent landowners no more than 20 days before the meeting.
Billy Carter told council members he lives one mile from the city limits and the proposed development is 2,500 feet from the city limits.
"Our neighborhood is strongly opposed to this," Carter said. "We're here to ask for your support in opposing this."
He specifically asked Mayor Ernie Penn and some council members to attend the Quorum Court meeting to speak on behalf of the residents.
Carter gave several points in opposing the proposal.
He said he expects that area to be annexed into Farmington in the future and the commercial development would not be in the "best interest of Farmington."
Such a business should be in an area zoned for commercial development, for example along Highway 62, Carter said.
Martha DeVault read a letter out loud she sent to Quorum Court members.
"I have tried to wrap my mind around how this proposed commercial enterprise improves our rural community or benefits the majority of the people who call this home," DeVault said. "The parties involved in this transaction are not currently part of this community."
Her concerns included lack of codes and regulations for facilities built outside the city limits and how installing such a commercial development would be a driving force for other commercial businesses on Bethel Blacktop Road.
DeVault said many people who were not at the Farmington meeting also opposed the development.
"We are pleading with the city to do all they can to stop it," DeVault told the City Council.
The city's engineer, Chris Brackett with Olsson Associates, reviewed the large scale development plan on behalf of Farmington, and the city submitted his review to the county's Planning Department.
This review, dated Feb. 13, showed that if the facility was in the city limits it would have to abide by several ordinances. The owner would be required to pave the parking lot and submit a landscape plan.
Brackett also said the approval of the development should be contingent on the Arkansas Health Department's approval.
Penn said he would go to the Quorum Court meeting to speak about the proposal.
"When you look at this area, the growth is residential and commercial," Penn said, adding "There is a place for this, just not in the middle of a residential area."
He agreed the growth area probably would be annexed into Farmington at some point and the city did not want to have "spot zoning."
In other business, four residents in Valley View subdivision discussed flooding problems, mostly along East Creek Lane.
They asked the city to look at the area to come up with a feasibility plan.
Clarence Roberts said he moved into his house on East Creek Lane about six months ago and was not aware at the time of the potential for flooding. Since then he's learned that some neighbors have had water flowing into their homes.
If he had known about the possibility of flooding, Roberts said he would not have purchased his home.
Two other residents, Rachael Catlett and Preston Oswald, have experienced flooding.
"When it finally came through, it was pretty amazing," Catlett said.
She asked the city to help find a solution "so we can feel safe and not feel like sitting ducks."
Penn said the city understood the residents' concerns and would ask an engineer to look at the area.
"I've lived here all my life and I've never seen water where it's been in the last five years," Penn said. However, in most cases, he said, storm water is gone within 30-45 minutes.
"We know the system (in parts of Valley View) is weak," Penn said, adding the city would try to determine the most efficient way to help the situation.
General News on 03/13/2019
Print Headline: Area Residents Address Council With Concerns