HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE, Ark. (KTHV) - 11 Listens to concerns from residents of Hot Springs Village where the community has adopted a comprehensive master plan, but not everyone is on board.
There are also proposed changes to the village's declaration. We sat down with the CEO and residents to address their concerns ahead of a November vote.
Hot Springs Village is located in the Ouachita Mountains, with more than 26 thousand acres, 11 lakes, nine golf courses, and three beaches. It is the largest gated community in the U.S.
“Anything you want to do is in here clubs, associations, cards, plays concerts everything is in the village,” said Jim Langford.
Langford, Tom Blakeman, and Gene Garner have lived in the village for several years. “We moved here for a relaxed quite lifestyle, play golf go fishing go play bridge, go to church," said Langford. But in September of 2017, the HSV Board of Directors voted to hire two organizations to develop a comprehensive master plan to preserve the village. "They hired consultants, they spent half a million dollars of our money, which no one was expecting," said Blakeman.
CEO Leslie Nalley said there is a transparent budget process and that residents were informed. They also sent out three surveys and went through a 6-month long planning process with property owners to inform them of the 20-year plan. “We also have a lot of property owners who live elsewhere. They don't live here, so, we did a webinar for nonresident property owners to help engage them," said Nalley.
The plan was presented to property owners in March. Nalley said it balances three things. "Maintaining what you see today, addressing service gaps like transportation or broadband service and then innovation just like any other community," said Nalley. She added they intend to recruit and attract developers.
The master plan consists of town centers, condos, two hotels, resorts, an amphitheat, r and 12 new restaurants to name a few. “We can't support the restaurants we have. We're having trouble supporting the golf course we have,” said Blakeman.
Blakeman believes the implementation of the plan isn't feasible and that their community of about 15 thousand can't support the CMP. “It's spending a lot of money on trying to change the village on say the millennial type of people say 20, 30, 40 to get them to move here," said Langford.
While the village is not officially referred to as a retirement community, the average age of the residents is in the mid 60’s. "Where are these people going to work when they come here, the millennials what will they do after nine at night?" said Garner.
But Nalley said they aren't looking to change the retirement element. She added, “61 percent of our marketing effort is focused on the retiree and empty nester market and continuing to build on what it has been and continuing to speak to the next generation buyer."
Meanwhile, other property owners like Sandy Carlie welcome the current vision. "Oh, I was thrilled beyond belief," she said. Carlie has lived in the village for three decades and is looking forward to growth. "Different is not always right and wrong but we have to do what the majority this is a majority rule community," said Carlie.
There is an election in November to update the bylaws for the POA. Some of the proposed amendments to the HSV declaration consists of voting rights, annual assessments and roadway construction and maintenance.
"The declarations as they are like a constitution, just like the constitution of the U.S. and they are there to protect us," said Langford. Langford and others fear their rights will be taken away. So, they've formed a website and coalition to educate and explain why they think owners should vote no across the board.
"I don't see anything in any of them that's going to deter values of property and that's what I study on a daily basis," said Carlie.
The original developer Cooper Communities Inc. established the village in the 1970’s and Nalley said the declaration was set up to protect the developer’s investment. She added, "About 10 or 12 years ago the developer closed shop here and we saw a need to make sure that our interest was equally protected."
Garner believes the board of directors want complete control. He wants them to work with CCI so that their presence remains visible. “They still own property and they still have certain rights. They have a vote when we try to change the declaration. They have a vote when we try to change the assessments," said Garner.
While they may not agree on the proposed amendments to the declaration, they'll each get a say in November. As for the master plan, Nalley said they're moving forward with implementation.
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