The contract between the City of Fayetteville and a company that will gather storm-downed wood from three sites in the city and pile it on a former stock-car racing track in south Fayetteville was a bit of a surprise to some members of the Fayetteville City Council on Tuesday, April 21, 2009.
It includes a few provisions that neighbors of proposed construction sites don't usually expect; but, in this case, the hours of operation were listed: Up to 10 hours a day, seven days a week.
These are the days and hours that have been worked since the Hill Place student-apartment site was approved for work last year. We mentioned this several times in public meetings and most recently in a Ward One/Town Branch neighborhood meeting on April 6, 2009, that focused on a developer's plan to build four-story apartment buildings to house 500 college students adjacent to the Fayetteville National Cemetery on the Washington County auction barn site in the eastern part of the Town Branch Neighborhood.
During that meeting, Alderman Brenda Thiel had been reminded of how that sort of persistent noise and traffic and dust can affect residents of an area and people who travel through the area. So she spoke up against the wood-chipping plan for Willoughby Road.
According to Wednesday's report on the meeting in the Northwest Arkansas Times, Thiel cast the only opposing vote in the 5-1 decision to rezone the property. The issue was not on the regular agenda but had been mentioned publicly at the end of a special council meeting Thursday, the Times reported.
"I cannot express enough how disappointed I am the public has not had the opportunity to comment, particularly with the trouble we went to change the use of that part of the property," Thiel said, the Times reported.
But, because of the necessity of getting the wood moved from its current three storage areas, the rest of the council members voted for the contract.
No other neighbors of the site attended the meeting, so there was no public comment. But I am confident that a majority would have spoken against it had they been on hand just as a majority of people who live near the National Cemetery and the sale barn spoke against the student-apartment plan on April 6.
I didn't know the plan was coming up for consideration and didn't know it existed. I stayed home after a busy day and only watched on television.
Sorry. I had looked at the agenda and saw nothing that would affect my immediate neighbors or constitute more than a normal environmental disaster to be expected from construction plans. I was as surprised as Alderman Thiel.
Almost clear: Old race track property to be wood chipping site
BY ROBIN MERO Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Fayetteville's ice storm debris problem was neatly solved — almost.
The city has nearly finished collecting tons of branches and limbs from yards and properties following the Jan. 27 storm. A contractor was found to grind the wood into mulch for use in gardening or as bedding in chicken houses.
Bedding materials are desperately needed by poultry producers, as saw mills across the region have closed due to a stagnant housing construction industry, the Fayetteville City Council heard Tuesday night.
The city will be reimbursed for more than 80 percent of the $5 million-plus cost.
There is only a single hitch — one that caused Ward 1 Alderman Brenda Thiel to vote against five fellow aldermen Tuesday.
The contractor will haul the 150,000 cubic yards of partially chopped wood to a 15.2-acre property south of Willoughby Road and east of U.S. 71B. That is the same property where the Thunder Valley Race Track once operated.
The contractor will spend three months grinding that wood, seven days a week and up to 10 hours a day, as a dozen tractor-trailers continuously cycle through — for loading and hauling the product to Huntsville. There will be about 1,500 trailer loads, predicted Gary Easterling of International Equipment Distributors, which won the $439,500 contract for disposal.
Thiel is concerned about noise, and that water runoff will be contaminated and flow into the West Fork of the White River.
"I understand the urgency, but I cannot support this," Thiel told the council. "This is in a valley and, as we know, the noise reverberates. This is surrounded by a residential neighborhood and will disrupt the area. I'm very sympathetic, as this population dealt with an issue for several years."
Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he also finds the solution imperfect, but he emphasized time constraints. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality gave Fayetteville a May 27 deadline to remove the chips from three locations in the city, due to concerns about spontaneous combustion and leaching.
"The easiest thing to do would have been burn this wood, like Springdale did," Jordan said. "I thought we were a more environmentally friendly city than that, so I offered to chip it."
For the rest of the story, please click on the following link:
Thiel stands alone in defending her neighborhood and Beaver Lake watershed