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story.lead_photo.caption File photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER Mark Renfroe, facilities maintenance crew leader and Wade Abernathy, division manager for facilities and construction management Fayetteville, look over old headstones in the cemetery at the Woolsey farmstead at South Broyles Avenue in west Fayetteville. The Planning Commission on Monday forwarded rezoning the property, which will allow the city to carry out the project, to the City Council.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Bringing a piece of 1840s history to modern city life got a little bit closer Monday.

The Planning Commission voted 8-0 to rezone about 30 acres on the west side of Broyles Avenue near the Farmington limits. The rezoning to an institutional district, if approved by the City Council, would allow the city to carry out its Woolsey farmstead project that's been in the works for five years.

Commission action

Fayetteville’s Planning Commission met Monday and approved:

• A Goodwill donation center at 2615 E. Mission Blvd., southwest of the intersection with Crossover Road.

• Rezoning 1960 E. Huntsville Road, between Ray Avenue and Dockery Lane, to allow the owner to continue using the residential building as a counseling office.

Source: Staff report

The project involves restoring the home originally built on the property in 1842. Its inhabitants, Samuel and Matilda Woolsey and their 13 children, were some of the earliest settlers of European descent in Washington County. Several stones at the property mark graves likely belonging to at least some of the family.

Remnants of a smokehouse and sweet potato curing house still stand at the property and will be restored, said Aaron Ruby, architect behind the project. The remaining structures once there -- a barn, chicken coop, corn crib and others -- will be recreated, he said. The area will become a teaching farm for children.

"These are things that are just meant to be able to explain to visitors how they would have lived in the 1840s," Ruby said. "It's not meant to be a working farmstead."

The first phase of the project is ongoing. The council last month approved a multiphase contract with Ruby's firm totaling more than $84,000 over the next two years. The city's capital improvements plan through 2022 has $744,000 budgeted overall for the project.

Commissioner Leslie Belden said that part of western Fayetteville needs a park or attraction. She described herself as a historic preservationist, and said she couldn't wait to see what the restored farmstead will look like.

"I am just bubbling over with excitement," Belden said.

In other business, the commission approved, 8-0, a permit and plan for a 16-unit apartment complex with offices at 4436 E. Huntsville Road, near the David Lyle Village subdivision and Baldwin Church of Christ.

Some commissioners worried the proposal could amount to sprawl because of its distance from the core of the city. Chairman Matt Hoffman said sprawl is usually defined as residential on the outskirts and businesses inward, and praised the project for mixing the two types of uses into one.

"I think this is an interesting project in that it's one of the relatively few vertical mixed-use projects that we see," he said. "As much as we talk about projects like that, we don't actually see them that much because they're difficult to do."

NW News on 06/25/2019

Print Headline: Farmstead project takes another step

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