Maumelle: Planning Commission moves forward with residential development

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It only took 31 years, but Little Rock developer Gene Pfeifer finally has a plan for Maumelle property he purchased in 1990.

The property, roughly 13 acres, along Commercial Park Drive had been zoned commercial and Pfeifer wanted it changed to Special Use Residential. 

The proposed development would build 101 senior residences along the east side of Maumelle Boulevard, across the street from First Baptist Church of Maumelle.

The proposal got a “do not pass” recommendation from the city’s Planning and Permits department, explained Scott Grummer, who serves as director.

Ron Harris was the applicant representative for Pfeifer and both were in attendance at the meeting last week. Representatives from Holloway Engineering were also on hand and in support of the proposal.

The property in question has sat vacant for decades, Grummer told the Planning Commission and, “not seen any commercial development since the old Kroger was repurposed into a storage facility.”

Indeed, the former Kroger was key.

Pfeifer called the grocery store, “the only retail establishment in Maumelle” when he purchased the property in 1990 and had envisioned it as being an “anchor” for future development. That all changed when Kroger built its current location near Odom Boulevard.

What the property became was the source of some ire from Pfeifer, who said it, “didn’t do me or the city a favor when you allowed one of the major corners in this town to become a parking lot for a U-Haul center and long term storage of RVs.”

With commercial development not an appealing option, Pfeifer has attempted to give the property away on multiple occasions and noted that plans for a library and a new City Hall for the area had all come and gone.

“I'm here to plead with you,” Pfeifer said. “What we have here is detached, single family, market rate residences for sedate seniors. … What in the world would you like me to do with it because I've tried everything else.”

Grummer noted, “I'm not opposed to the project itself” and that his concerns were rooted in the nearby industrial park and that residential property near it might hamper economic development there.

“We are in need of a diversity of housing types,” Grummer said. “[Commercial 3] has not worked for the area for the last 20 years.”

After some discussion about tabling the request, a motion for a “Do Pass” to the Maumelle City Council was passed unanimously on a voice vote.

A related and second request to rezone from C3 to Planned Residential Development also received a “Do Pass” on a unanimous voice vote.

For Pfeifer, now 83, the next step is approval from the Maumelle City Council. So the journey isn’t quite over, but a destination is in clear sight.

The unanimous votes received a quick round of applause from one member of the public at the meeting.

In other business, St. Nicholas Episcopal Church’s request for a conditional use permit to allow church activities at 2001 Club Manor Drive, Suite N was approved.

Video of the Maumelle Planning Commission meeting can be viewed by clicking here