Wildwood Developer Wins First of Five Lawsuits

by George Waldon  on Monday, Oct. 10, 2011 12:00 am  

"The utilities have told me I don't have to pay tie-on fees to Deltic Timber," Smith said. "But because of the way Deltic did the utilities, I'll have to come back and do an eminent domain to get one foot of land to tie on to sewer."

After passage of a now-controversial 2001 ordinance, Deltic Timber completed the Chenal Valley Drive loop and rerouted a portion of Gordon Road between Denny Road and Chenal Valley Drive.

The reworked road network allowed Deltic to develop the Sezanne neighborhood over a portion of the original Gordon Road right of way. The rerouting also created a cul-de-sac on a portion of the original Gordon Road that ends at the northern border of the Sezanne project.

This dead-end street is the disputed section of Gordon Road. The road remains open to traffic, provides access to Butler's home and serves as a boundary between her land and Smith's property.

A string of ongoing lawsuits is wound around the question of how an open road that provides physical access for Butler can be legally closed to development access for Smith.

The disputed 2001 ordinance combined with Deltic's routing of Chenal Valley Drive effectively landlocked Smith's acreage to development. The courts have yet to weigh in on this overarching issue.


Courtroom Battles

Smith received approval of his preliminary plat to develop 27 acres from the Little Rock Planning Commission on March 10. However, City Attorney Tom Carpenter blocked his efforts to get a building permit.

Carpenter filed an administrative lawsuit on April 11 to overturn the Planning Commission's 6-4 vote approving the project.

His stance is that Gordon Road was closed to development by city ordinance in 2001, and the commission's approval violated the ordinance.

A majority of the Planning Com-mission believed Carpenter's take on the ordinance didn't make sense and ran contrary to the city's historic land-use policy to protect access for property owners. The commission approved Smith's project despite warnings from Deputy City Attorney Cindy Dawson regarding the legality of the panel's action.



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