The project to overhaul Pine Mountain Village has come before the Planning Commission for various approvals, but the commission did not immediately approve plans on Nov. 10 to develop cabins along nearby Drennon Dr.
Building the 10 cabins would require removal of trees, and the request to cut trees appeared on the agenda ahead of the review of actual construction. Civil engineer Todd Butler spoke on behalf of the project. He said the layout of the cabins will preserve as many trees as possible, and any trees removed will be replaced.
Commissioner Tom Buford said the application called for removing 34 trees, but only 10 were flagged for removal when he visited the site. Butler said all the trees had been flagged, and submitted pictures showing flags in place. Those pictures also included the survey markers. Buford insisted that the trees should be flagged for inspection.
Commissioner Ann Tandy-Sallee said she would like to see a design for the entire project, which eventually could include as many as 31 cabins, although the present application only calls for 10 cabins. She also suggested the developers should be “good neighbors.”
In response, Marshall Johnson, one of the owners, said, “We want to create a quiet setting.” He said he has come to the commission with pieces of the project because of the overall scope. He also noted that the commissioners had encouraged him at previous appearances and asked why they balked at the current project. Tandy-Sallee said the rest of the project falls in a commercial area, while the request to build cabins affects a residential area.
City Historic Preservation Officer Glenna Booth said the proposed cabins would lie in C-2 zoning, although the houses on Drennon Dr. are in a residential zone. Commissioners voted to defer the tree cut appeal until they could review the site with the trees properly flagged. They promised to respond quickly once the flags re-appear. The commissioners also deferred the decision on construction of the cabins.
During public comments on this question, Debra Mills objected to the project. She said the cabins would require more septic systems and the traffic would overwhelm the narrow drive. Pamela Ensminger suggested developers build a parking structure, to prevent “bikers and cars going back and forth all hours of the night.” She had also written a letter to the commission, but that letter was not read since the issue of constructing the cabins was tabled.
Cedars on their way out at Leatherwood
The City of Eureka Springs must also go through the commission before cutting trees. Scott Miskiel, Interim Director of the Parks Department, described efforts to restore glades at Lake Leatherwood City Park. He spoke of several flat areas with little soil. Those areas would ordinarily support grasses and wildflowers, but they have become clogged by cedars, which can grow without deep roots.
Miskiel said wildfires would ordinarily regulate the cedars, which have little competition. The plan would require removal of some 150 cedars. “That sounds drastic,” Miskiel admitted, “but in reality we’re restoring these glades to the condition they’re supposed to be in.” Commissioners asked if Parks planned to use any of the wood. Miskiel said larger trees would be milled for lumber for pavilions and other projects. Some trees would make fenceposts, and Parks plans to acquire a chipper, to avoid burning the branches.
Restored glades will provide an area for study and research, Miskiel said, and commissioners approved the request.
Dressing up the corner
Commissioners also approved a request from Jeff Carter to create more off-street parking at 44 Prospect. Chair LauraJo Smole complimented Carter on the clarity of his application. She also asked about his plans for greenery on the site. Carter said he intends to hire a landscape architect and plans to pay extra attention to the appearance of the property. “We expect thousands of people to stand in front of that house and take a picture,” he said.
The next meeting agenda will include a discussion of tourist lodging in areas zoned R-2.
Smole said she will be leaving the commission at the end of the year to join city council. She said someone is ready to fill the vacancy.