Watershed controversy at Lake Maumelle | News
WEST PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) -- Residents say it's about property rights. The government argues clean water.
A mammoth project in Pulaski County, which began seven years ago, led to the adoption of watershed protection ordinances in 2007 to keep the water in Lake Maumelle clean and safe.
But residents say they have already been under regulation for decades, and their property rights are gradually being taken away.
Officials with Central Arkansas Water stated that there is a lot of 'misinformation' on the proposed regulations for any future development, but residents say that's not the case.
It is referred to as the "Pulaski County Comprehensive Land Use Plan," for Lake Maumelle.
In total, 500 letters are being mailed out to property owners at the western end of Lake Maumelle, asking for support to stop government regulation of their land.
"These letters are to let people know what's happening," said resident Fred White Sr.
Lake Maumelle is the primary water supply for the Little Rock-North Little Rock metropolitan area.
The land surrounding the lake is known as a watershed, and the property owners there are facing new zoning regulations that would limit anything that might affect the runoff into the lake.
Residents, like the White Family, have owned property there for several generations.
"If we sell any property, we will be declared a subdivision. And we have to go by all the new laws and everything which they promised us we wouldn't have to do originally," White said.
The new laws include permits required for any future construction in the area -- due to the watershed protection. If the regulations go into effect they will be similar to neighborhood covenants.
"And I'll have to go to a planning board before I can do anything with my property," White said.
Residents Mark and Lorie White say the proposed zoning regulations are unnecessary.
"I think the zoning regulations need to be dropped. We need to be left alone. We don't need to be zoned anymore. We already have those restrictions by Pulaski County and the ordinances that they have in place that protect the water. And we're abiding by those," Lorie White said.
"It's against the law. They're trying to take our rights from us as landowners, where we have the rights, and they're going against the constitution," Mark White replied.
No eminent domain and no annexation associated with this project, according to Martin Maner the Director of Watershed Management for Central Arkansas Water. He said that the 'use of private land' is solely about water quality.
But some residents believe that Alotian Golf Course is receiving special treatment because the watershed is not being regulated on that property.
"They are contracting with a local engineering firm to sample for chemicals to see what's out there. And so far everything is below detect," Maner said.
Van McClendon is the Pulaski County Planning and Development Director. He responded to resident accusations of unequal treatment. He says the only special interest is the water supply.
"Central Arkansas Water is the interest. They're trying to protect their water supply. But it's much more than special, it's much broader than special, because it's everybody in Central Arkansas' drinking water supply," McClendon said.
"They have a few misguided people in Little Rock who run around hollering 'clear water' and this has nothing to do with that," White said.
A final public meeting is scheduled for September 27th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Winfield United Methodist Church at 20100 Cantrell Road.
Comments are to be submitted to the Pulaski County Planning Board, ahead of time, by September 16th.
So will these regulations take effect?
The Planning Board is scheduled to review the proposal, along with residents feedback, at their October meeting. And the goal is to have a final determination by the Quorum Court in November.