Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I don't mind progress. In fact, I think it's inevitable.

But shouldn't voting for progress require some sort of clear conscientious thought and deliberation and a thorough evaluation of the possible negative ramifications in order to determine the best approach?

Our City of Conway Arkansas Council members, in their infinite wisdom (sarcasm intended), decided it was in the city's best interest to completely remove the "buffer zone" provided by previous zoning requirements established for the specific purpose to act as a buffer to protect adjacent neighborhoods and rezone the property behind our house and those of all my neighbors on the east side of our street to allow the neighborhood Kroger grocery store to expand to three times its current size into a 123,000 square foot mega super center, in addition to approving an 8-bay gas station, all of which will be built within 100 feet of our backyards. Access to this mega center will be inadequately provided by two small arterial two lane roads definitely not suited for the 6,000 daily auto trips projected. Whoo Hoo!

In the initial proposal stage, the planning commission denied the application, and rightly so. There are properties all over Conway that are much more suited for a project as large as this. But Kroger appealed the decision to the city council and our honorable Mayor, Tab Townsell, broke the tie with his vote in favor of the expansion. He liked the idea that other communities would be envious. Yes, it had more to do with his ego than what was right for the citizens. Even though, as I mentioned, there are more suitable sites in the city for a project of this size. Although, a couple of those site are fairly close to Mr. Townsell's backyard...and we certainly couldn't disturb his quality of life now, could we?

Kroger is just getting started with the project, so we don't even know what the full impact will be on the surrounding neighborhoods. We're about to find out.

For the last month or so, this has been going on just over my back fence. First the grading of the entire field that buffered the noise and activity from the grocery store...

8-10-11 Kroger Expansion

Then the digging of the access road, which will follow the configuration of all of the backyards of the homes adjacent to this property...
8-29-11 Kroger Expansion

This photo was taken from my backyard at 7:00am this morning.
Kroger Expansion 9-7-11

For this photo, I was standing on a concrete step with my forearms resting on the fence.
Kroger Expansion 9-7-11

They start the behemoth heavy construction equipment at 6:30am every day and all day long my house shudders and my windows rattle as a result of the thundering machinery and this continues until 5:00pm when the air becomes startlingly quiet in comparison and I can hear myself think again.

Tom overhead the Kroger manager tell another customer that Kroger plans to open the gas station in two months. I have two reactions to that timeline.

First, I am grateful to have a time frame for when the construction noise will finally be over and gone.

However, the required 8-foot fence isn't under construction and I don't see any of those "buffering" trees being delivered for planting along the fence line.

Those items were just two of the conditions of approval of the project in order to protect the us, the homeowners, from noise and gas fumes pollution from the new gas station and the traffic activity and noise from the mega super center. Will the city council demand Kroger comply with the requirements to receive their permit to open the gas station? We'll see.

We, the neighbors directly impacted by this expansion, are already in offensive mode (as in aggressive and preemptive) and, upon hearing the news, immediately voiced our concerns about any possible waiver of the conditions to the planning commission, who is charged with monitoring the progress of approved projects. Let's hope our ego-driven mayor doesn't step in the middle of it and decide to override any code or contingency as he has done in the past with other departments, namely building code enforcement. But I won't get into that right now.

In other great news, we brought our little convertible back from Florida and had to take it into the shop because of an "engine error" icon on the dash. It was lucky for us that Chris rented a trailer for us to pull the car back home rather than drive it. The engine error turned out to be a cracked gas tank (can you imagine driving a car with a leaking gas tank 1,000 miles?), probably, the service manager said, because the gas tank had a small undetected defect, which, of course, didn't present itself until after the warranty had expired. My little red convertible has a new gas tank and we can pick it up and bring her home this afternoon after we pay the $1,500 bill. I've never named anything except my children and my animals, including my chickens and sheep. I've never named a house or car or boat or any other inanimate object. But, for the first time, I'm thinking of naming this car...something fairly descriptive, like "F**king Blood Sucking Bitch".

Anyway, my subsequent posts will probably be rather sporadic since I am working on compiling a cookbook of all my late mother-in-law's recipes, many of which she translated many times and in many forms from recipes she received from her mother and mother-in-law. Her handwriting is so distinctive and I'm enjoying reading all of her instructions and side notes. It is like having a conversation with her. It's so comforting to sit with her here at my desk.

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