Judge Tosses Lawsuit Seeking to Block Jonesboro Developers from NLR Bass Pro Project

MAY 10, 2006 - Posted at 8:36 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that sought to block construction of a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World along a wetland area in North Little Rock.

U.S. District Judge George Howard, Jr. ruled that extensive environmental assets are not necessary for the planned development by the Jonesboro-based Belz-Burrow Company.  Howard also ruled that the environmental groups that filed the suit did not have standing to sue.

The Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store is to anchor a 71-acre project called The Shoppes at North Hills.  The site includes 30 acres of wetlands.

The suit was filed in April 2005 by the Arkansas Nature Alliance, the Audobon Society of Central Arkansas and four residents.  The suit claimed the Army Corps of Engineers should have required developers to complete an environmental impact statement before they were granted a permit.

The Corps says the center can be built without damaging the wetland.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)