Council OKs temporary entertainment district at Pine Mountain Village

Friday, September 20, 2019

By Samantha Jones

Bikes, Blues and BBQ will feature the first entertainment district in Eureka Springs history.

At a special called meeting Monday morning, Mayor Butch Berry said he received an application from the owners of Pine Mountain Village to establish a temporary entertainment district on the property Sept. 25-28. Berry presented a resolution to the council saying the district would be located within the Pine Mountain Village property and would operate from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 25-28.

Berry remembered when the council approved an ordinance establishing the standards for permanent and temporary entertainment districts on Sept. 9, saying the ordinance states that those seeking a temporary permit must submit their application within 30 days of the event.

There is a clause in the ordinance, Berry said, saying the mayor can bring an application to the council at his discretion. That's why he called the special meeting, Berry said. He said the ordinance was deferred at the council's Aug. 26 meeting, making it impossible for the owners of Pine Mountain Village to apply for a temporary entertainment district within 30 days of Bikes, Blues and BBQ. He could have brought the matter to the council at its next regular meeting, Berry said, but that would make it difficult to put the entertainment district together.

"That would allow them only two days to arrange for all the vendors, arrange for employment and everything to get this project set up," Berry said. "In my opinion, this was just really not fair to them trying to get everything set up in time."

Alderman Harry Meyer said the owners of Pine Mountain Village have had a fenced-off beer garden for the past several years.

"They want an entertainment district to allow anyone to walk the property of Pine Mountain Village," Meyer said. "That's the only change whatsoever. What we're doing is allowing them to walk any place on the property."

Marshall Johnson, who runs Pine Mountain Village with his parents, said the beer garden is tied to a charity. Johnson said he believes a temporary entertainment district would enhance what's already happening at Pine Mountain Village.

"It's a big weekend for us," Johnson said. "We're just trying to add to what's going on."

Alderwoman Melissa Greene asked if public drinking would still be allowed if the council voted down the request and Johnson said the beer garden would serve that purpose. Having an entertainment district, Johnson said, would make it easier for everyone at the event.

"The beer garden has a permitted area fenced off," Johnson said. "The entertainment district allows you to leave that area and walk around other areas of the property."

Alderwoman Susan Harman asked if Johnson felt more people would attend the event if there were an entertainment district.

"It's a new thing we feel could impact the setting," Johnson said.

"I guess what I'm asking is will it change your event that much if this doesn't pass?" Harman asked.

"We feel like it will," Johnson said. "We've been pretty adamant about getting this passed early on."

Meyer asked Johnson why he didn't come to earlier council meetings to advocate for a temporary entertainment district at Pine Mountain Village and Berry said he was the one to bring the matter to the council.

"Now we're here at a special meeting interrupting our Monday morning to accommodate them," Meyer said. "They could've at least come to one of our council meetings to help promote their idea. This is sprung upon us. As far as I can tell, they can go have a nice party without us doing this."

Alderman Terry McClung moved to read the resolution for passage and the council began to vote. McClung and alderman Bob Thomas voted yes, while Meyer and Greene voted no. Schneider asked city clerk Ann Armstrong to come back to her.

"I honestly don't know," Schneider said. "I can't make a decision."

Harman agreed.

"I really kind of need to read this through," Harman said.

Schneider asked if the council could come back to the vote after reading over the resolution and Berry said they were in the voting process.

"We're waiting on Mrs. Harman's vote," Berry said.

"What about my vote?" Schneider asked.

"You voted no," Berry said.

McClung asked if he needed to retract his motion and city attorney Tim Weaver said the voting must continue until it's complete. Schneider and Harman abstained, making the vote 2-2-2. Thomas moved to reconsider the vote and the council continued its discussion.

Greene said she voted against the application because of the 30-day timeline described in the ordinance, saying she didn't think the public was informed about the request. McClung said the owners of Pine Mountain Village attended a council workshop on Sept. 6 and Greene said she didn't remember that.

"The mayor has acted legally according to the ordinance we passed," Thomas said. "The application was submitted legally. The resolution is legal."

McClung moved to approve the resolution and the council voted again, this time unanimously approving it.

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