Neighbors Start Petition To Stop Development On Markham Hill In Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- A proposal by Specialized Real Estate Group to rezone and develop about 100 forested acres of land in Fayetteville is getting blowback from some nearby homeowners.

The property is about 144 acres on Markham Hill, located off W. Markham Rd. along I-49 and includes Pratt Place Inn and Barn. Specialized Real Estate acquired the property within the last few years and has worked in that time to develop a plan of what the area could become.

Lisa Orton, who lives next door to the property, has not been secretive about her opposition to any future development on Markham Hill.

"In our eyes, [Specialized Real Estate Group] is ruining this natural habitat," Orton said. "This natural area."

During a meeting last night, the Fayetteville Planning Commission voted 8 to 1 allowing a rezoning proposal to move forward to the city council.

As part of its proposal, Specialized Real Estate Group wants to decrease the size of the commercial planned zoning district to 24 acres, which includes the inn and barn. Plans would include adding an 80 room hotel, cottages, two additional commercial buildings and residential homes.

A second rezoning proposal would rezone about 75 of the remaining 119 acres from residential single family (RSF-4) to residential intermediate-urban (RI-U), allowing up to 476 residential homes. The remaining 44 acres would become residential agriculture (R-A) and remain preserved.

Orton said she and her neighbors have spoken to the developer, but remain unconvinced the area will be kept in its pristine state.

As part of her opposition, Orton created a change.org petition in hopes of persuading the city council to vote down the measure, or

"If you love wildlife and nature and the history of Markham hill for Fayetteville, join us in preserving this very special place," Orton said.

Lawrence Finn, with Specialized Real Estate Group, said he understood the concern from residents and hoped that they'll eventually join in on the development plans.

"I would actually reach out to those that are suspect in what we are doing and I would say join us in this process," Finn said. "What we really want to do is build a neighborhood, address Fayetteville's and Northwest Arkansas' housing needs, but we want to do it in such a way that's sensitive to the natural environment."