Planning commissioners heard complaints from several residents of the Stonecrest subdivision during Tuesday's planning commission meeting over a preliminary plat development permit for a new subdivision on Airport Road.
The preliminary plat development permit for Hillcrest subdivision, which would be located to the south of Stonecrest, was approved by the planning commission in a vote of 4-2 with Commissioners Chris Salley and Ted Song voting no.
The permit, as well as the annexation permit, will go before the city board of directors on Nov. 2, according to a staff report prepared by Senior Planner Ben Rhoads and City Engineer Justin Bland.
Six residents addressed the commissioners over their concerns related to Hillcrest. Lyle Winters, the president of Stonecrest's Property Owners Association, raised several questions to the planning commission concerning the development.
Winters focused on the increase in traffic on Airport Road, which is difficult to make a left-hand turn onto U.S. Highway 412 heading east and asked if it was possible to put a traffic signal there. He also asked about utilities infrastructure related to the low water pressure Stonecrest experiences.
Audrey Weekly spoke about the 15-foot ravine on Airport Road and the change of elevation directly behind her property.
"It, according to the plans, shows that it's a 15-foot drop in elevation, so it's a steep drop so then there will be considerable fill as well as a 20-foot fill that they would need to do for a roadway," Weekly said.
She proposed that the work be done for wildlife consideration as well as recommending four lots be converted to a playground or some sort of open space. Weekly also said the playground would deter sexual predators from moving into the neighborhood.
When it was time for the commissioners to weigh in, Song asked if Rhoads could answer the questions asked. Rhoads said because Hwy 412 is a major highway, it fell under the jurisdiction of the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT).
Bland echoed his sentiment saying ArDOT may not be inclined to install a signal because of the low traffic on Airport Road.
"It's just you really need side volume off these side streets in order to actually kick that into place where you can get the traffic signal," Bland said.
Salley asked if the speed on Hwy 412 could be decreased, but Bland said that decision also lies in the hands of ArDOT.
Water superintendent Danny Farine addressed the water pressure issue.
"We went and done some tests on some fire hydrants and pressure in that area," Farine said. "The lowest we could find in there is about 46 pounds of pressure at the lowest and it varies depending on your elevation." Farine added it goes up to between 60 and 66 pounds.
Farine also said Hillcrest will tie into the water main that's on Airport Road and they will extend off of it as well as tying into the line that's on the end of Buffalo Gap Road and will actually help the residual pressure.
Commissioner Bryan McKenzie asked about the condition of Airport Road and if the city plans to work on the road. Bland said since the eastern side of the road, except for Stonecrest, is in the county so it's a question of who would be responsible.
Bland also said the public works department just put out a maintenance plan and Airport Road is not on the three-year plan.
Randy Tolbert, senior engineering technician with Peters & Associates, said they did a traffic study looking at existing conditions. Looking at the conditions a little more aggressively, Tolbert said he went out to Airport Road the day of the meeting and understands the concerns of residents trying to make left-hand turns onto and off of Airport Road. While Hwy 412 has plenty of traffic, Airport Road is a different story.
"Another development is probably going to be what could trigger it," Tolbert said.
Planning commissioners also discussed and voted on the following items:
• Approving a significant development permit for 15303 AR Hwy 59. This item will go before the city board on Nov. 2.
• Tabling a permit for 190 AR Hwy 59 until the Nov. 9 planning commission meeting.
• Approving a special use development permit for 602 N. Mount Olive St. This item will go before the city board on Nov. 2.
• Approving a special use development permit for 509 E$. Ashley St. This item will go before the city board on Nov. 2.
• Approving a special use development permit for 618 E. Main St. This item will go before the city board on Nov. 2.
• Approving a special use development permit for 313 S. Wright St. This item will go before the city board on Nov. 2.
• City comprehensive plan monthly update.
• Lot split development permit for 22468 Marsh Road. This item went before the city board for easements on Oct. 5.
• Lot line adjustment development permit for 214 E. Franklin St. This item went before the city board for easements on Oct. 5.