Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Morning News reports that sale-barn owner has appealed city's decision not to rezone property

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Sale Barn Owner Appeals Rezoning Rejection

By Dan Craft
FAYETTEVILLE — The owners of the Washington County Livestock Auction are taking their rezoning fight to court.

Billy Joe Bartholomew filed a notice of appeal Friday in Washington County Circuit Court. The Fayetteville City Council last month rejected Bartholomew's request to rezone the sale barn property from heavy industrial/light commercial to downtown general status.

The Bartholomew family operated the sale barn in south Fayetteville for seven decades before closing it earlier this year. A deal to sell the land to Campus Crest, a developer of apartment complexes, hinged on rezoning approval.

"I thought the rezoning was the last thing I'd have trouble with," Bartholomew said.

Veterans' organizations objected to North Carolina-based Campus Crest's plan to construct 200 student apartments on the 9-acre site, which is adjacent to the Fayetteville National Cemetery. The groups wanted time to try to raise $4 million to buy the site to expand the cemetery.

The city planning commission approved the rezoning request, but the City Council voted 4-3 against the plan after tabling the issue several times.

Circuit Judge Doug Martin will hear the appeal. A date for the hearing has not been set.

"Unless the court finds that the council's action was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, they usually won't step into this type of situation," said Kit Williams, city attorney. "Mr. Bartholomew certainly has the right to appeal, but the courts usually grant much deference to the city council in this type of case."

Campus Crest officials have said they may still be interested in purchasing the property if the appeal is successful, Bartholomew said. He hasn't heard anything new from the veterans.

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