Six law students in a service- learning Neighborhood Development course presented recommendations for the UDDC April 28 at the UALR Bowen School of Law.
First Scott Jones, who graduates in December, presented a statistical analysis of the Oak Forest neighborhood, which mostly consists of one-story, ranch-style homes that range from 900 and 1500 square feet. His research included title searches and compiling records of sale information, owner/renter occupation, and appraisal value. Jones suggested the UDDC could become the landlord, turn lots into green space until the market turns around, or make a larger impact with the SNAP program.
LaTrenia Byrd, who graduates in May, presented a model lease agreement for homeowners and tenants, who may be legally unsophisticated and not able to hire an attorney. She provided a copy to representatives of the UDDC.
Will Choppin of Nashville, Tenn., a 2012 law candidate, shared recommendations for a residential purchase agreement, emphasizing fairness, readability, and simplicity.
Next Jim Miners, who graduates in December, discussed ideas for opt-in covenants as a neighborhood development tool. Restrictive covenants are promises by homeowners, such as in historic neighborhoods and subdivision developments. Common covenants are no mobile homes or trailers and only single-family residences. He suggested starting on Harrison Street, where the UDDC’s first refurbished home is, giving neighbors the opportunity to opt in and offering a SNAP program incentive.
May graduate Robin Horn, who will practice law in Camden, researched land bank programs to include side lot transfers, foreclosure prevention, and green space in Flint, Mich. Land banks can be set up by a government or nonprofit entity to reverse blight and stabilize neighborhoods.
Nicholas Gastel looked into community land trusts, which are not currently in Arkansas; however, one is forming for a retirement community in northwest Arkansas. He presented information on establishing land trusts, membership, governance, and their benefits and disadvantages.
Lynn Foster and Cliff McKinney were the students’ professors. This is the second year for the course.