The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas
Judge Backs Rejected Planner For Board
By Scarlet Sims
The Morning News
BENTONVILLE - Benton County Judge Gary Black once again will recommend THAT a well-known environmentalist become a Planning Board member.
The Quorum Court narrowly rejected Mark Curtis, 57, of Rogers to replace real-estate attorney Adele Lucas last month. Now Black will ask justices of the peace to reconsider.
Black and justices of the peace Kurt Moore and Bob Stephenson, both R-southwestern Benton County, were absent during the July meeting. Black was out of the office Friday afternoon.
In an e-mail, Black said he decided to recommend Curtis again after hearing from residents who support Curtis' nomination. The Quorum Court will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Stephenson said he was not prepared to say which way he will vote, but Moore said he plans to support Curtis. Moore worked with Curtis on zoning issues. He said he thinks Curtis will be able to put his opinions aside and follow county planning regulations.
Curtis will also provide diversity of experience on the board, Moore said. He said Black wanted someone on the Planning Board who lived near Beaver Lake.
Curtis works in public and private finance, according to his resume. He has a degree from University of Minnesota in urban geography. He studied city and regional planning at Memphis State University from 1977 to 1979, according to his resume.
Other board members have backgrounds in engineering, surveying, home inspections and wastewater treatment systems.
Planning Director Ashley Pope said Curtis is qualified to be a board member because he is a longtime county resident with many connections to the community. Curtis attends nearly every Planning Board meeting and genuinely cares about the county's growth and development, Pope said.
"I just really think he's going to do a good job," she said. "He's not in the position to overburden the county with restrictions because he is one member of seven. He will not be in control of the board."
Curtis' opponents worry he won't be fair and will want to overregulate. Curtis supported a controversial ordinance that would have limited or prevented development around Beaver Lake. He opposed building high-rise condominiums on the lake, according to his resume. Curtis is also treasurer of the Association for Beaver Lake Environment, a group dedicated to preserving Beaver Lake.
The attending Quorum Court members split 6-5 to reject Curtis' appointment on July 24.
Justice of the Peace Bobby Hubbard, R-northwestern Benton County, said he still won't vote for Curtis. The fact that Black chose to bring Curtis back to the Quorum Court shows a lack of respect for the officials' opinions, he said.