The Bella Vista Planning Commission looked at 11 rezone requests for several Cooper Communities parcels across Bella Vista.
All the parcels are currently zoned P-1 conservation, with seven applications requesting a rezone to R-1 single family residential and four requesting rezone to C-1 commercial. The majority of these parcels are in the highlands with a few near the city's border with Gravette.
Commissioner J.B. Portillo asked why so many plots had been zoned P-1.
Commissioner Don Robinson explained that when the city incorporated in 2008, it worked closely with Cooper Communities to try to get land use and zoning applied correctly.
"We asked specifically about some of the reserve areas," he said. "We asked what was planned for those areas."
There wasn't a clear plan in place for these spaces but they needed a zoning designation, which resulted in a broad-brush approach, he explained.
Anything that wasn't clearly designated for something else became P-1 conservation, Robinson said.
"We were under a lot of pressure time-wise," he said.
Planning commission chair Daniel Ellis said he agreed with this assessment and recalls the city having a very brief few months to get its zoning code and land use map together -- along with numerous other projects on the freshly-incorporated city's plate.
"We only had so many months to get it done," he said.
Mayor Peter Christie said outside the meeting he was glad to get a degree of clarification on this unusual zoning situation.
"That's the one thing that baffled me," he said.
The commission also tabled until its next work session a preliminary plat request for a proposed Forest Hills 2nd subdivision off Arkansas Highway 279, another Cooper Communities application.
The proposal would convert the 26.73-acre property just north of the highway's intersection with Little Drive into a 39-lot subdivision.
Staff recommended tabling this item on the basis that a series of related waiver applications had also been submitted too late for the June 17 Planning Commission regular meeting.