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BENTONVILLE -- Developers of the controversial Crystal Flats mixed-use development have given planning commissioners a preview of similar plans for consideration.

The conversation with commissioners comes about seven weeks after a representative for the land owner said there were plans to sell the land, not develop it.

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Crystal Flats project site

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Meeting Information

The next Planning Commission meeting will be at 5 p.m. Dec. 19 in the Community Development Building at 305 S.W. A St.

Source: Staff report

Commissioners rejected a request in August to rezone the property to a planned unit development, which requires a master site plan. In October, they approved a more straight-forward rezoning request that didn't require project plans for the land. Development plans for the rezoned land don't require a public hearing.

The project's site is 28 acres along Northeast John DeShields Boulevard between Legacy Village and Circle of Life Hospice to the north and west, Orchards Park to the south and Memorial Park and a residential neighborhood to the east.

Cindy Springs LLC owns the property. The company has the same post office box as Walton Enterprises.

Green Circle Projects, Safdie Rabines Architects, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, Ecological Design Group and CEI Engineering Associates are all working on the project.

Matt O'Reilly with Green Circle Projects and Nate Bachelor with CEI Engineering gave planning commissioners a glimpse of the plans at the Technical Review meeting Nov. 28.

"It's a large project so we wanted to give you guys a preview," O'Reilly said.

The plans are expected to be on the Planning Commission's Dec. 19 agenda, according to Tyler Overstreet, city planner.

The development's layout looks similar to the one submitted in the summer with apartment buildings and townhomes in a semicircle on the property's north side and a mixed-use commercial building fronting Northeast John DeShields Boulevard.

Bachelor said he wouldn't comment on the project but passed questions sent to him in an email to the developer.

Phone messages left with Green Circle Projects public relations manager Jessica Pearson Thursday and Friday weren't returned by 5 p.m. Friday.

Commissioners tabled the planned unit development request at its July 5 and July 18 meetings after hearing opposition from nearby residents concerned about building height, increased traffic and safety for Memorial Park users.

Developers made changes to the project to try to ease residents' concerns, including removing one story from the core building, lowering its height from 75 feet to 55 feet tall.

Commissioners denied the request 3-3 at its Aug. 1 meeting. More than 100 people attended. Four votes were needed for the project to move forward. Commissioner Scott Eccleston was absent. Commissioners Tregg Brown, Jim Grider and Joe Haynie voted against the zoning. Richard Binns, Rod Sanders and Greg Matteri voted for it.

The land owner and developer chose not to appeal the commission's denial but try a second rezoning request. They asked for the property to be divided and zoned medium-density residential along the west and north boundaries, high-density residential on the east boundary and part of the south boundary and central commercial on most of the south boundary.

Medium-density residential permits townhomes and allows for 12 dwelling units per acre, whereas high-density residential allows for 24 units per acre, according to the city's zoning code. The central commercial zoning allows for residential and commercial uses and has a maximum height of 80 feet.

Bill Watkins, attorney representing Cindy Springs, told commissioners and council members the purpose of the rezoning was to better position the land to sell and his client wasn't and wouldn't be the developer.

Commissioners unanimously approved the rezoning request Oct. 3 after a two-hour public hearing where 47 people spoke both for and against it. More than 170 people were in attendance. The City Council upheld the commissioners' decision with a 5-2 vote Oct. 10.

"There is no project," Watkins said at the Oct. 10 City Council meeting. "I want you to understand there is no project. This is a straight rezoning. My client is attempting to get the property rezoned in conformity with the Land Use Plan and position it for sale. There is a lot of speculation about what the project might be, but there is no project as we stand here."

Land records show Cindy Springs owned the property as of Dec. 7.

Watkins said Thursday his job was finished after the property was rezoned and hasn't been involved with the land or project since.

When asked if he knew that modified plans for Crystal Flats were going to submitted to the city after the rezoning, Watkins said, "Well I can't tell you what I did or did not know (not wanting to) violate attorney-client privilege, but I can tell you there was no contract pending at that time."

The new plans have the same layout as those submitted as a planned unit development, but documents suggest the development will be built in two phases, with three residential buildings on the northwest side to be phase two.

NW News on 12/10/2017

Print Headline: Crystal Flats plans anticipated to return for approval

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