Planning commission OKs plans for Echo Village

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

After months of planning, the Echo Village

is closer to becoming a reality.

The Eureka Springs Planning Commission

heard from Dan Bell about the

affordable housing community on Passion

Play Road on Tuesday, Dec. 12, with Bell

describing what the project will entail. It

will include 24 homes ranging from 400

to 800 square feet, Bell said, and eight of

the homes will be designated for certain

individuals.

“There will be two of the homes for

transient homeless, two of the homes possibly

for prison release, two of the homes

for mental health issues and two of the

homes for disabilities,” Bell said. “The

other 16 homes are intended to be for people

who live there permanently, a mix of

young and old people who want to assist

others and live in an ideal community.”

Volunteers plan to visit Eureka Springs

to build seven of the homes in June, Bell

said, and it should be easy to get those

done. He said a grant will pay for one of

the homes, the Methodist church will help

build another and one individual in town

has agreed to pay for their home.

“We think the first seven can be done

relatively inexpensively,” Bell said.

At the end of the project, Bell said, the

homes will be surrounded by a circle drive

with a central gathering place in the middle.

He plans to make the project as energy-

efficient as possible, Bell said. Planning

Commission chairwoman Melissa

Greene read letters from fire marshal Jim

Kelley and public works director Dwayne

Allen saying they support the project.

Commissioner Ann Tandy-Sallee asked

if the houses would be for long-term or

short-term residents, and Bell said some

residents won’t stay long but others will

live there on a permanent basis.

“The core, the 16 families … they may

live there more permanently,” Bell said.

“That’s the core of the long term.”

Tandy-Sallee asked if the residents

would be required to follow guidelines to

live there, and Bell said they would.

“So it’s going to be kind of like a halfway

house?” Tandy-Sallee said.

“Not exactly,” Bell said. “It’s going to

be a help to those who need help.”

Does that mean individuals who have

been arrested for a sex offense, Tandy-Sallee

asked, wouldn’t be allowed to live

there? City preservation office Glenna

Booth said the planning commission can’t

make decisions based on that.

“He can rent to whoever he wants to.

You’re looking at infrastructure,” Booth

said.

“He’s also looking at rules and conditions,”

Tandy-Sallee said.

“Not from your standpoint,” Booth said.

“You’re looking at the infrastructure of the

project. Who he rents to is his business.

You don’t go around and tell other people

who they can rent to.”

Bell said the project has the community

in mind.

“What we’re trying to do is meet a need

for the community,” Bell said. “People

can’t find places to rent right now.”

Commissioner Tom Buford moved to

approve the application for the project on

the stipulation that parking requirements

be included in the plan and a document

will be filed saying the project will comply

with the provision regarding the maintenance

of common areas and the streets.

The commission voted unanimously to

approve the project.

The commission adjourned and moved

into the Board of Zoning Adjustment

meeting where Bell presented an application

for a tree removal permit for the

project. Commissioner Doug Breitling

recalled a site visit to the area where the

houses will be built, saying he was impressed

by how few trees will be removed

during construction.

“I think they’ve taken a great deal of effort

to minimize the number of tree cuts

that are involved,” Breitling said.

Breitling moved to approve the tree removal

permit, and the commission agreed

to do so.

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