Annexation, zoning and other controls are needed to head-off future problems with uncontrolled development of Arkansas Highway 321 from U.S. Highway 67/167 to Arkansas Highway 89.

This is part of the recommendations of the corridor plan proposed for Highway 321, at the southern portion of Cabot, heard by the Cabot Planning Commission reviewed during the December meeting.

If adopted the plan would join the West Main, South Pine and Kerr Road corridors.

Corridor plans are long-range guides for the most efficient development of tracts of land. The Highway 321 Corridor Plan extends from the junction of Arkansas Highways 321, 367 and 5, to about the intersection with Dogwood Lane. Generally, the corridor is divided by the Union Pacific rail line into west and east sections, each section having unique characteristics.

A study of the proposed corridor shows that Highway 321 will become increasingly important as a chief east-west corridor as Cabot develops further, and that significant development opportunities remain along the corridor.

But with the development would come increased traffic that would call for future expansion of the highway into four lanes.

Currently, about 19,000 vehicles per day (VPD) use Highway 321, at the Two Prairie Bayou bridge, with about 15,000 VPD just west of Highway 89. A Metroplan traffic study projects these figures to increase in the next 20 years to 20,000 and 17,000 VPD respectively. “It appears very likely traffic will reach the projected levels well before 2030,” the study notes.

The area near U.S. Highway 67/167 “contains a sporadic mix of commercial, residential, and industrial/quasi-industrial uses, creating some use-compatibility issues,” the draft plan notes.

The plan notes that much of the land around the interchange lies within either the floodplain or the designated floodway, or both. “This will make development/redevelopment of these lands difficult.”

While much of the land around the interchange is developed, little has been annexed into the city leading to poor control of development.

Cosmetically, the interchange presents a poor first impression of the area, and is not “a welcoming and attractive gateway into the community.” Additionally, the design of the interchange and heavy traffic load has made the area hazardous, and projections are that the traffic load will increase by almost 50 percent by 2030.

The area east of the Union Pacific Railroad to Dogwood Lane does not have the problems seen to the west. The area keeps a rural character and feel, and is dominated by single-family residences and scattered rural residential development.

Goals of the plan would be to build and maintain a solid foundation for community growth and development; to enhance the corridor and provide a welcoming attractive gateway for Cabot; and to preserve the functioning and safety of the Highway 321 Corridor.

The increased traffic along Highway 321 between U.S. 67/167 and Highway 89 is expected to create a higher demand for commercial development. But floodplain restrictions on much of the vacant land will limit development.

Given the current supply of vacant commercial land, development in floodplain and floodway areas is strongly discouraged.

Lands east of Highway 89 are expected to remain mostly single-family residential and most of the area is already developed with platted subdivisions and unplatted scattered single-family homes.

Also, limited access to wastewater utilities and few remaining undeveloped large tracts of land, it is likely that development densities will remain low in this area; few large 10-40 acre tract subdivisions are expected.