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A group of Missouri business owners who purchased property on Doe Run Avenue has Baxter County residents living on Mallard Point up in arms after the owners began construction on a large RV park that will fundamentally transform their neighborhood.
Eddie Brian Sides, and his fellow owners, began construction on their Whispering Oaks Luxury RV Park over five months ago. The Missouri contractor has been accused by residents of performing construction without permits, a fact that he admitted before the Baxter County Planning Commission on Feb. 27.
He has also been accused of lying to county officials and residents about the timing of the permits he did pull, potentially cutting trees on U.S. Army Corps of Engineer property, installing septic tanks without permits, attempting to overtake privately owned boat slips for commercial use and his past involvement in a lawsuit for defrauding tornado victims in Joplin, Missouri.
“That is not me,” said Eddie Brian Sides during a phone conversation with the Observer when discussing the Joplin suit. “There is another guy that done that. The only thing I have ever done myself is, I was involved in the Indian Ridge thing, which all those people went to prison and defrauded us out of $250,000.”
Since its purchase, Sides and his fellow owners have been pitching Whispering Oaks Luxury RV Park in a big way.
Their website lists amenities like free Wi-Fi internet, wooded back yards, a pavilion for gatherings, a movie theater, putt putt mini golf, zero entry saltwater swimming pool, a basketball court and a pickleball court.
Some plans on their Facebook page, which have now been deleted, even show estate lots and direct lake access. Sides has publicly stated that he would build condos on the property in a future phase of development.
At this time, Whispering Oaks is currently taking $500 deposits to secure an RV slot, as well as a $3,100 option to pay for a full year.
These project plans sparked outrage amongst the various neighborhoods over Doe Run Avenue, who began voicing concern over Doe Run becoming overly crowded with its influx of visitors and leasers, making it impossible for residents to reach their own boats slips at the end of the road. That outrage reached fever pitch, when the business’ Facebook page began promoting private lake access through a ramp.
Those public promises put Sides and the RV Park under strict scrutiny from those living in the area, resulting in several complaints being filed against the park after Sides appeared to have started construction around the property without sign off from county or state officials.
To make matters worse, at some point Sides’s relationship with his new neighbors took a turn for the worse, prompting threats against him and some minor cases of alleged vandalism. The Observer does not condone threats against Sides, despite what his past actions may or may not be.
That relationship soured even further, following a public meeting with the Baxter County Planning Commission on Feb. 27, where the public conversation turned heated between Sides and several members in attendance.
“I’ll tell you right here, this is going to cause a bunch of fights, a bunch of problems and a bunch of headaches,” said Paul Tribble, a resident of Mallard Point. “You’re not giving people enough room to get up and down through there.”
In the Feb. 27 meeting, residents brought up a multitude of concerns regarding the construction of Whispering Oaks RV Park. Those concerns ranged from their own boat access to having strangers and their children in the neighborhood. It should be noted that portions of Doe Run Avenue do become washed out when lake levels are high, and residents recommend a four wheel drive vehicle to reach the boat docks at the end of the road. Several residents also voiced concerns over parking in the area.
During the meeting, Sides attempted to offer a workaround by placing a gate on the road in front of his property and rebuilding a side road that would allow residents to drive around the RV park to get to their dock, but residents quickly shot the idea down, stating they were worried that Sides would ultimately close off access to the whole road.
According to Sides’s own words, the new route for residents would run right in front of his planned condominiums.
“So, the amenities are amenities that go on the property, I haven’t decided where I’m putting them,” Sides said in an attempt to smooth over the crowd. “The condos are proposed. Proposals sometimes never happen, just like my cabins. I’m not saying they will happen, or they won’t happen.”
Baxter County Judge Kevin Litty said he could potentially get behind the side road plan for residents if the road met county standards. Litty noted that Sides had made some improvements to portions of Doe Run Avenue and described the worksite as clean.
Litty also voiced concerns over some of the work that has been done at the RV park, noting that Sides had cut trees on Corps property and had installed a portion of the park’s septic system illegally. The judge also stated that permit violations are outside of his control.
During a meeting with the Observer, Litty expressed some frustration with Sides, who has repeatedly invoked the judge’s name when questioned about his construction plans. The judge, who wants it made clear that he has made no deal with Sides, stated that he wants to be known as truthful and wants Sides to clean up his act.
Litty would also like residents to understand that Sides and his fellow owners have the right to develop their property in any way they see fit, so long as they follow the law.
Construction workers that began installing the septic system confirmed to the Observer that they did begin the installation project, with one tank being put into the ground. They then stated that they immediately stopped work upon learning that Sides did not have a permit. Those contractors asked they not be named publicly out of fear their reputation would be damaged by being associated with Sides and the RV park.
A representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they were aware of complaints about tree cutting on Sides’s property but stated that the Corps has a policy of not discussing investigations with the public. They did note that a ranger had been dispatched to look for potential damage and that a fine would be issued if complaints proved to be true.
Sides left the Feb. 27 meeting after threatening to build homes on the property instead of the RV Park. The Planning Commission asked that Sides return with a proper plan and permits the following month, but they will likely not enforce that request after looking further into their authority over the construction on the site..
If Sides were selling the 76 RV stalls he’s creating to permanent residents, he would be required to record his plats with the commission, but since he is only leasing each slot for a year, he is not required to receive plat approval by the commission. He is still responsible for pulling permits from the Arkansas Department of Health and ADEQ. If he continues to develop in the future, such as condos etc., he will then be required to get approval for those projects.
Construction without permits
On Nov. 22 of last year, ADEQ received an anonymous complaint about Whispering Oaks Luxury RV Park stating that “the developer has begun the clearing and grading of his proposed RV park on each side of Doe Run Drive. He purchased 47.47 acres on Oct. 22, 2022, and began clearing soon thereafter. There are no erosion control methods in place. The property is on a ridge that drops down to Lake Norfork and abuts COE property. Per an email from ADEQ’s Jessica Sears on Oct. 18, 2022, a stormwater discharge permit application had not been received.”
That complaint was verified on Nov. 29, after representatives from ADEQ performed a reconnaissance inspection of the RV park. Those inspections found that the owner was “operating a large construction site (five acres or more disturbed) without the required stormwater permit. This is a violation of (b)(1), which states, ‘It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in any of the following acts without having first obtained a written permit from the division to discharge sewage, industrial waste, or other wastes into any of the waters of this state.’”
Sides was required to correct his actions by Jan. 20, but those corrections never came. In fact, Sides has been dodging the permit process for some time despite starting construction in October.
In the Feb. 27 meeting, Sides said he had every permit but those from ADEQ, claiming to have his “water permit in my hand,” alongside his electric permit, but records indicate that Sides had only applied for the water permit the very same day.
On that same day, a full month after his correction period with ADEQ, Sides sent in an email to ADEQ stating that he had asked Strider Consulting, the firm that is currently drawing plans for the RV park, to have the necessary paperwork done so that he could get it turned in to the state.
Sides would not turn in the applications for his stormwater pollution prevention plan and septic tank permits until March 8. Strider Consulting confirmed that Sides had done construction work without filing for the proper permits during a phone conversation with the Observer but refused to give further details.
During three separate conversations with the Observer, Sides attempted to lay blame at the feet of Strider Consulting for not filing the proper paperwork. It should be noted that property owners are ultimately responsible for ensuring that all permits are properly filed when doing construction work.
Defrauding tornado victims
After being approached by several Mallard Point residents, the Observer began an investigation into Sides and the other owners of Whispering Oaks Luxury RV Park. Sides is joined in the project by Duane Smith, a teacher who lives in Missouri, Smith’s wife, and Sides’ wife, Stacy Sides.
While the Smith family and Sides’ wife have no major court cases or criminal records, a search for Brian Sides through Missouri’s court records revealed a potential history of fraud.
In 2012, former Missouri State Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit in Japser County Circuit Court against one Eddie Brian Sides of Reed Springs, Missouri, over defrauded tornado victims after accepting tens of thousands of dollars in payments for construction materials while not completing the work.
In that lawsuit, Koster stated that Sides was conducting business under the name Brian Sides Contracting and that he began advertising home repair and construction in Joplin, Missouri, following the city’s hit by a tornado on May 22, 2011.
That tornado, which is listed as the deadliest single tornado in U.S. history since official records begun in 1950, landed in the downtown metro of Joplin, Missouri. At its peak, the tornado reached an EF-5 rating on the Enhanced Fujita tornado intensity scale, carving a 6-mile-long path through the city of 50,000 residents. Winds reached over 200 miles per hour.
When it was all said and over, the Joplin tornado killed 161 people, while injuring over 1,000 more. Over 8,000 buildings were destroyed, including a major hospital and other critical facilities. Damages added up to over $2.8 billion, making it the costliest tornado in U.S. history.
Koster’s case moved quickly, with Sides not making an appearance in court, prompting the judge to side with the plaintiffs in his final ruling. Sides was ordered to pay Betty VanOstran $14,500, Annetee Merritt $8,455.38, and Andrea Grissom $6,000 for not providing services.
Sides was also required to pay court costs and legal fees for the State of Missouri to the tune of $13,281.79, as well as fees for failing to render proper services and proper refunds. Sides was also cited for not maintaining current business licenses with all appropriate state and local governments. Those fees cost him another $3,000.
Sides’s was also prohibited from selling or engaging in construction work in Japser and Newton County.
When pressed on the court case, Sides adamantly denied that he was the individual that defrauded tornado victims in Missouri, claiming that it was another individual with the same name. Yet, court records say otherwise.
During his first conversation with the Observer, Sides admitted on the phone that he was involved in the Indian Ridge project that took place in Missouri in the 2000s. That development project sent several developers to prison after authorities found that they had lied to get loans for the project in 2006. The project fell dormant in 2009.
Investigators in that case found that developers had obtained 51 construction loans for the project. Those loan agreements required construction costs to be paid before seeking reimbursement. Developers were found to have failed to do enough construction to justify the funding they received. In total, only 13 homes were built.
The 900 acre project was pitched to eventually have $1.6 billion in shopping centers, along with a 390-room hotel resort and a golf course.
On the phone, Sides claimed that he had lost money on the project while working as a contractor, but that he did not go to court over the case. Sides also claimed that there was very little information on the internet about the Indian Ridge project, but a simple Google search yields news results from Fox News, KY3, NY Post, and more.
Even though Sides claimed to not go to court, Missouri court records show that Sides did join in several lawsuits seeking to take liens out against developers for the work they had done. In Brian Sides v. David Burton et al, Sides lists himself as doing business as Brian Sides Contracting, while listing his address as 112 Micah Crossing in Reed Springs, Missouri.
A search up of Brian Sides Contracting business registration in Missouri reveals a notice of expiration for a fictitious name with the state. That fictitious name is listed in Koster’s court case against Eddie Brian Sides for defrauding tornado victims. A further search of court records shows Sides using the same address in Village of Indian Point v. Eddie B. Sides, Brian Sides v. David A. Preszler et al, and in Chas. C. Meek Lumber Company of Branson, Inc. v. Brian Sides.
Stacy Sides also used the Micah Crossing address in Eddie Brian Sides et UX v. Jameson Burton.
Sides claimed that he could not be those individuals because of his age. Court records in multiple cases listed his birth years as 1983 and 1974. Sides is listed as being born in 1974 in Koster’s tornado lawsuit, which would put him around 49 years old. Sides claimed to be 51 on the phone.
A look through public court records for Sides’ current address in Reed Springs, which can also be found through his business license for MYPOWERGRID LLC, shows Sides listing his birth year as 1974. The Observer was able to contact Sides after multiple attempts through the number listed for his MYPOWERGRID LLC business.
All documents contained in this article outside of the water permit and septic permits are publicly available via government sources.