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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/STACY RYBURN Robert Rhoads, an attorney representing the developer of a patch of land near Rupple Road, speaks Thursday to the Fayetteville City Council. The council approved measures that will fill the gap of Rupple between Tanyard Drive and Weir Road.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The final piece completing an arterial loop around the city was put in place Thursday.

The City Council voted 6-0 on three items to connect Rupple Road from Tanyard Drive to Weir Road. Council members Adella Gray and Matthew Petty were absent.

Council action

Fayetteville’s City Council on Thursday also approved:

• A $50,645 budget adjustment to compensate for security and traffic control during the filming of HBO’s True Detective.

• A zoning district for 111 units on 22 acres and rezoning of 2.5 acres for the Sagely Place subdivision at Old Missouri and Zion roads.

• Razing a house at 16 N. Willow Ave.

• A federal aviation grant to widen a taxiway at the municipal airport. The city will pay a little more than $10,000 on the $1.6 million project.

Source: Staff report

The move represents the last connection needed to complete an arterial loop, also referred to as the Mayor's Box, around the city. Another piece comprising the northwest corner of the box is set for improvements, but a road exists. It goes from where Rupple Road becomes Howard Nickell Road, then curves east and becomes Arkansas 112 before transitioning to Van Asche Drive.

The rest of the Mayor's Box takes a short route north along Steele Boulevard and follows Joyce Boulevard east, turning south down Crossover Road and heading back west through Happy Hollow Road and 15th Street. It takes a slight route north on Razorback Road to get to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and resumes west until hitting Rupple Road.

Robert Rhoads with Hall Estill law firm represented developer Buffington Homes, who will purchase the property from the Darrel and Margaret McFarland family trust. The 65 acres was passed down through generations of the family.

Rhoads said the discussions that took place for nearly a year are a good example of a planning department, administration, developers and landowners coming together for the good of the city. An item to rezone the land first came through the Planning Commission in November last year but was denied. An appeal of the commission's decision to the council has been on hold since January.

The revised proposal includes land uses outside of strictly residential, as was initially proposed. City Attorney Kit Williams helped draft an agreement with the developers to gain the right of way and terms for annexation also came together. The land lies just outside the city.

Even if plans to develop the land fall through, the city still gets the right of way for the road connection, Rhoads said. The plan is to make it four lanes with a median, trail and sidewalk.

"You can't lose from that standpoint," he said.

Part of the deal entails voter approval of a bond issue next year. Voters will be asked to renew the city's 1-cent sales tax in order to generate about $200 million for roads, public safety and other capital projects.

The developer will build the road and the city will pay for the work, pending approval of the bond. The cost of the work to the developer is capped at $2.3 million.

City engineers estimated total cost on the project at $5 million. That means taxpayers likely will save about $2 million to $2.5 million with the deal in place, as opposed to the city going at it alone, City Engineer Chris Brown said.

The revised zoning plan will allow about 4 acres of small-scale commercial development southwest of the intersection with Weir Road. An included agreement says any residential uses within that district would go above the first floor of a building.

Additionally, the Fire Department anticipates reducing response time in the area by a minute or two, reaching the desired goal of no more than four minutes, Fire Chief David Dayringer said. The department also is looking at the possibility of putting a new fire station somewhere in that part of town, he said.

Council Member Sarah Marsh said she has a high bar when it comes to annexation. But, she said, finishing the Mayor's Box will help make getting around on the trails or on public transit more feasible for that part of town.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan recalled starting the effort to improve Rupple Road about 15 years ago. Jordan was on the council then and his beard was still red, he said.

"You don't ever get anywhere by yourself," Jordan said. "It always takes a team of people seeing the vision with you."

NW News on 11/09/2018

Print Headline: Council makes connection

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