Council moving forward with Pine Crest Subdivision

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Eureka Springs City Council is on board with the new Pine Crest Subdivision.

On Monday night, the council heard an application from Jay Gustin for the subdivision, located off Pivot Rock Road. Council member Terry McClung moved to prepare an ordinance to approve the subdivision and city clerk Ann Armstrong explained that the proposed ordinance is a draft because city attorney Tim Weaver hasn't had a chance to look over it yet.

McClung asked Gustin if he can wait two weeks for the subdivision to be approved and Gustin said that would be fine with him.

"We're a year behind right now," Gustin said. "It's nobody's fault. It's just the way it works. Whatever works best for you works for me."

McClung suggested deferring the issue to the council's next meeting, where the council would complete all three readings of the ordinance. Thirty days after that meeting, McClung said, the subdivision would be a "done deal." Gustin said that would work for him.

"Time is of the essence to some degree," Gustin said. "Whatever it takes to get through that that's not questionable is totally satisfactory."

Mayor Butch Berry said public works director Dwayne Allen has worked with Gustin every step of the way and suggested that the council members drive by to check out the subdivision. It's the first new subdivision that has been created in Eureka Springs in 20 or 30 years, Berry said. Council member Melissa Greene thanked the planning commission for its hard work making the subdivision happen, and Gustin said it was a joy to work with the commission.

"It's been a pleasure through the whole process," Gustin said. "Things have sometimes been slow but that has nothing to do with the city or anybody. It's just weather, workmen coming in and a lot of things of this nature."

Gustin said he's working on creating a cul-de-sac at the end of the subdivision so fire trucks can properly turn around, but that hasn't been completed quite yet. Gustin said that part of the project has been approved by fire marshal Jim Kelley and fire chief Nick Samac.

"When you get to the end of the road, you're going to say, 'What's he doing here?' " Gustin said. "There's been some field changes, but we finally got approved what's going to work best in this situation."

McClung moved to defer the issue to the council's next meeting and council member LauraJo Smole moved to amend the ordinance to prepare the emergency clause so the ordinance can be approved on all three readings at one meeting. The council unanimously agreed to do so.

Berry then updated the council on the status of electric charging stations, saying the city is working with a nonprofit organization called Adopt a Charger to place two charging stations on Planer Hill. Berry said the organization chose Lonoke and Eureka Springs as the first two cities in Arkansas to install the stations. The equipment costs $9,300, Berry said, and the organization will cover all of that.

"The project will be of no cost to the city of Eureka Springs," Berry said.

The installation should start in February, Berry said. Council member Autumn Slane asked how much electricity it would cost the city and Berry said it shouldn't cost the city anything.

"This is super exciting," Slane said.

"We were excited when we got announced and we found out we were able to get two of the stations," Berry said. "We were hoping we'd get four, but we'll settle for two."

Also at the meeting, the council considered three rezoning requests. Submitted by Byron McKimmey, the first request was to rezone 38 Prospect from R-1 Victorian Residential to C-3 Quiet Commercial. Greene moved to approve the request, and McClung said the request was brought to the council years ago.

"We had a problem with it then because it constitutes spot zoning because the house next door is still residential," McClung said. "It skips that property and then the properties on the other side are also residential. If the house that is adjacent to the C-1 went along with it, it would certainly be fine."

McClung continued, "I have no problems including this. I just think it needs to be contiguous and not be playing hopscotch."

Greene said she'd ordinarily agree with McClung but the house would sit and rot if it's not used for something. Greene said McKimmey and his wife "just want to share" the house with the community.

"I don't think this is a bad rezone given the building and giving it the chance that it will stay preserved," Greene said.

Smole said the lots along the rear line of the building are C-3.

"You're still skipping the house next door," McClung said.

McClung said the building had a conditional use permit when the McKimmeys purchased it, but they let the permit lapse.

"I'm sorry they did that, but that's what happened," McClung said. "When that happens, you've got to go back and go through the deal, and it doesn't qualify."

Council member Harry Meyer agreed.

"If we have rules against spot zoning, I don't think we should be doing this," Meyer said.

McClung suggested rezoning all the lots in the neighborhood to C-3 Commercial.

"That's what you should be doing instead of just here and there," McClung said. "Make a commitment and be done with it."

Meyer said that was a good idea and suggested approaching the neighbors to ask if they'd be open to rezoning to C-3 Commercial. McClung said the council went through that the last time the issue came to the table and the neighbors didn't want to rezone their property.

The council voted on Greene's motion to approve the request, with Greene, Slane and council member Bill Ott voting yes and McClung, Smole and Meyer voting no. Berry voted yes to break the tie, approving the request.

The council moved on to a request to rezone 44 Armstrong from R-1 Victorian Residential to C-1 Commercial. McClung moved to approve the application and Greene said the house was purchased as a residential home. Greene said city preservation officer Glenna Booth gets "call after call every week" about homes that have been put on the market, with interest in turning the homes into Airbnbs.

"We've just got so much commercialism," Greene said. "We used to need them to keep the town filled. We just don't need them anymore. If someone bought it as residential, it needs to stay residential."

McClung said the building is surrounding by commercial buildings.

"You're playing favorites," McClung told Greene. "The property next to it is also being rezoned commercial so that doesn't make any sense at all. None."

Slane said it's important to keep the residential areas.

"But I do have to agree with Terry on this where everything around it is commercial," Slane said. "We are at a difficult situation here in Eureka. We are trying to preserve where we live, because that is such an issue, but in this case, I agree it should be commercial."

The council voted unanimously to approve the request, moving on to a request to rezone 46 Armstrong from R-1 Victorian Residential to C-1 Commercial. Smole moved to approve that request and the council unanimously agreed to do so.

In other business, the council passed a resolution encouraging Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state legislators to pass legislation enhancing penalties for hate-related crimes.

"The legislators are writing some legislation regarding hate crimes," Berry said. "I think this is something that's very important, especially in our city. I would like to send it down to the governor and our legislators for their information."

The council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8, at The Auditorium.

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