David W. Parker, who is now attorney for Dennis Rainey in the felony case filed over his cutting of more than 100 trees on Central Arkansas Water property in the Lake Maumelle watershed, today provided a response to the charge filed last week.
Dennis Rainey has consistently acted in good-faith and within the permission he
was given. Mr. Rainey maintained the trees behind his home in the same condition
they have been kept since he purchased the home in 1983, with the express
permission of the water department, while following their restrictions. In May of
this year, he hired a tree service who felled four living and two dead pine trees.
Also, many oak trees were trimmed to the same height at which they have been
kept since before the home was purchased in 1983. All of this was done with
careful consideration to obey the restrictions given by the water department.
Central Arkansas Water (CAW) changed its position regarding the tree
maintenance after the fact and never once raised the issue in the previous five
decades that the trees were maintained in the same condition.
Contrary to what has been reported in the media, CAW representatives have
repeatedly acknowledged that it is possible or even likely that Mr. Rainey had
permission to cut the trees. Just last week, CAW sent the watershed landowners an
“official notice” that any previously received permission to cut trees is now
revoked. If it was true that no one at CAW ever gave landowners permission to cut
trees, there would be no need to send a formal notice revoking permission.
The notice further warns watershed landowners that cutting trees is prohibited by
the Lake Maumelle Watershed Zoning Code, which is incorrect. The Code does
state, however, that a violation of the Code cannot be charged as a felony, which is
what has been alleged against Mr. Rainey.
Mr. Rainey has not committed a felony and we will aggressively defend him
against this government overreach.
CAW disputes that it ever gave Rainey, founder of the Family Life religious counseling service, permission for the work. Trees were felled or topped to improve the view from his hilltop home, damaged CAW estimated at more than $100,000. According to a news release about the notice CAW sent to landowners in the watershed, it said landowners had (emphasis supplied) “no authority to remove or prune any trees or vegetation on CAW property.”
No trial date has been set on the Class B felony charge of criminal mischief for property damage of more than $25,000.