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Springdale Planning Commission rejects zoning request

by Laurinda Joenks | April 7, 2021 at 7:00 a.m.
Springdale city hall.

SPRINGDALE -- The Planning Commission on Tuesday rejected 5-2 a rezoning proposal to allow heavy industrial use near homes along East Apple Blossom Avenue and North Oak Street, east of North Thompson Street.

The owner of the property wanted to split 12 acres off the south end of a lot occupied on the north by On Time Logistics, which operates a warehouse distribution center.

Patsy Christie, director of the city's Planning Department, said the logistics company wants to build Phase 2 of its operation on the back half of the lot. The land surrounding the lot on the west and south sides hold industrial operations.

The land also provides access to the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad, although no spur line is in place.

According to the planning documents, the Gerald B. Jones Revocable Trust owns the land. Jared Inman, an engineer with Jorgenson and Associates, requested the rezoning.

Land zoned for commercial use borders the east side of the industrial space. The commercial land will provide a buffer between the industrial and residential properties, Christie said.

The commission approved the change of 2.6 acres along Apple Blossom Road from a commercial to industrial zone, which would have provided access to Apple Blossom for the trucks accessing the proposed development. No zoning in place would allow the trucks access to Oak Street, Christie said

Apple Blossom has been designated as a collector street by the city, but the infrastructure for that isn't in place, Christie admitted. The trust made improvements to Apple Blossom where it touched the trust land, as required by city statute.

The north side of Apple Blossom falls in Lowell and is subject to that city's zoning requirements, Christie said.

"It's a question we face all the time. It's a challenging question," said Kevin Parsley, chairman of the Planning Commission. "Which comes first, development or infrastructure?"

"To me, the railroad plays a big part in it," said Commissioner Peyton Parker, who attended the meeting via Zoom. "We try to allocate land next to the railroad for industrial zoning.

"We still have to have places to put industrial zonings."

Only Parker and fellow commission member Dale Tyler voted in favor of the rezoning of the larger property.

Christie said the land lies in what used to be Bethel Heights. That city's planning commission zoned the property as industrial. Springdale assigned to all properties from Bethel Heights the most similar zoning classifications in Springdale, as appropriate, Christie said.

She also said Bethel Heights approved the plans for the first On Time Logistics facility, but she hasn't found any documentation regarding Phase 2.

Matthew White, who lives in a neighborhood east of the property, called the zoning by Bethel Heights "a mistake."

Christie said state law allows an industrial zone close to a residential zone if the surrounding properties are compatible. In this case, the surrounding lands are all zoned industrial and commercial.

"We are not making a decision on the land adjacent to the houses," she said. "It will still be zoned commercial tomorrow, just like it is today."

White told the commission members he petitions signed by more than 200 people opposing the rezoning.

He also referred to another neighborhood of 92 lots being sold immediately north across Apple Blossom, with some homes currently under construction.

"Those people who are buying those homes have no idea that a warehouse might be built there," he said.

White said he's lived in his home on for nine months.

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