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Community Forum Addresses Controversial CAW Land Deal

Wednesday night, several Pulaski County Quorum Court members organized a community forum about a controversial potential land deal between Central Arkansas Water and a county planning board member.
Wednesday night, several Pulaski County Quorum Court members organized a community forum about a controversial potential land deal between Central Arkansas Water and a county planning board member.

Right now, several people are pretty fired-up and angry after finding out about a deal in the works which would allow a planning board member to potentially make hundreds of thousands of dollars off of a land deal which CAW customers have already paid for.

Landowners from the Lake Maumelle watershed, along with several quorum court members, have a message for Central Arkansas Water: they say the deal smells bad.

The potential land deal is called a conservation easement, and it would give CAW access to Pulaski County Planning Board member Ray Vogelpohl's three-hundred plus acres, while giving Vogelpohl a lot of cash.

Property owner Lorie White dug up the land deal documents.

“I want some answers as to exactly what has happened with the Vogelpohl easement versus the ordinance versus just everything being tied together," says White.

White is also concerned about customers paying for the deal. CAW charges customers a 45-cent fee every month, and that's where the land deal money would come from.

Tuesday, several customers sued CAW and the county over that fee. White supports that lawsuit.

“They want us to buy into being partners in this issue, then, they need to be transparent. They need to be honest and it needs to be all out in the open and it hasn't been," she says.

CAW reps defended the concept of conservation easements again Wednesday repeating that anyone with land in the watershed can negotiate one and the land deal sparking so much controversy still is not a done deal.

Vogelpohl e-mailed FOX16 Wednesday, and while he does not want to be interviewed on camera, he wanted us to have a letter he sent to the Quorum Court Tuesday.

In it he says, "CAW or anyone else can't buy my vote."

The Quorum Court is supposed to vote on the controversial watershed zoning ordinance Tuesday night.
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