City Council Recap: Aug. 16, 2016

File photo

On the agenda

  • Changes to the design standards for garages on smaller, single-family homes.
  • Rezoning 1.3 acres just south of 1297 E. Farmers Road.
  • Rezoning 36 acres at the northeast corner of Morningside Drive and 15th Street.
  • Rezoning 0.2 acres at 1030 S. College Ave.
  • Approving a conservation easement on Kessler Mountain.

» Download the agenda

A meeting of the Fayetteville City Council began at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 inside room 219 of City Hall, located at 113 W. Mountain St. in Fayetteville.

Listed below are the items up for approval and links to PDF documents with detailed information on each item of business.


Roll Call

Present: Adella Gray, Sarah Marsh, Mark Kinion, Matthew Petty, Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Justin Tennant, Martin Schoppmeyer, John La Tour, Alan Long
Absent: None

» View current attendance records


Presentations

1. Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association Check Presentation – Officials presented a $60,000 check toward the acquisition of Kessler Mountain.


Consent

Consent items typically are approved in a single, all-inclusive vote.

1. Approval of the Aug. 2, 2016 City Council Meeting Minutes
Pass 8-0

2. NWA Regional Airport and NWA Council Foundation COOP Agreement (Details): A resolution to approve the cooperative agreement between the City of Fayetteville, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA), and the Northwest Arkansas Council Foundation regarding the placement of wayfinding signs directing travelers to and from the airport within the public rights-of-way at no cost to the city.
Pass 8-0

3. Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, PLLC (Details): A resolution to approve amendment no. 4 to the contract with Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, PLLC in the amount of $15,000.00 for additional legal services related to the White River water quality standards petition to the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, and to approve a budget adjustment.
Pass 8-0

4. CDI Contractors, LLC (Details): A resolution to approve a budget adjustment in the amount of $11,820.00 recognizing revenue from CDI Contractors, LLC for its share of costs for repairs to Wilson Avenue.
Pass 8-0


Unfinished Business

1. Amend §164.23 Single-Family Infill Standards (Details): An ordinance to authorize the City Council to grant a variance in the Single-Family Infill Standards to support attainable, affordable housing.
Pass 8-0

Notes: This was left on the second reading at the Aug. 2 meeting.

The original proposal was to allow the City Council to grant on a case-by-case basic a variance to the city’s rule that garages on the front face of a single-family home shall be recessed at least 5 feet behind the principal facade if the home has 46-69 feet of street frontage (read that section of city code here).

This rule was put in place in October for safety-related reasons. Since some people use their garages for storage instead of parking, the idea was to make sure there was still enough room in the driveway for residents to park cars without blocking the sidewalks.

Some developers who construct affordable housing – including Mark Marquess of Riverwood Homes, LLC – said this rule increases the price of a home by several thousand dollars – an added cost that is ultimately passed on to the homebuyer.

City Attorney Kit Williams said the current variance process for this rule is handled by the Planning Commission, which must adhere to very strict requirements to determine a need for a variance. Because one of the council-approved City Plan 2030 goals is to “create opportunities for attainable housing,” Williams said he thought the council was better equipped to handle these specific types of variance requests.

Alderman Petty said while he appreciates the intent of the proposal, he doesn’t think it’s the right approach. He said he understands that the Planning Commission has a very limited set of considerations it can discuss when determining the need for a variance, but said Planning Commission members are much better equipped to make design-based decisions. Petty said he would rather see an ordinance that gives the Planning Commission more freedom to grant variances instead of writing a new rule that allows developers to bypass the standard process.

Alderman Kinion agreed, and suggested sending the proposal to the council’s Ordinance Review Committee for further discussion.

The committee met last week and unanimously recommended a change to the existing ordinance that would relax the ordinance’s applicability from lots with 46-69 feet of street frontage to lots with 50 feet of frontage or fewer. The change also states that instead of requiring garages to be recessed behind the front face of the home, they now must be either behind or flush with the front facade, effectively eliminating the construction of a “snout house,” which is the term for a home with a protruding garage. No variance would be required to build a home under the new rules.

Alderman La Tour said he voted in favor of the changes during the Ordinance Review Committee, but called the decision “the lesser of two evils,” adding that the City Council shouldn’t tell developers how to design garages. Instead, he said, those decisions should be strictly between developers and homebuyers.

The amended proposal was adopted unanimously.

Marquess thanked the council and said the change will allow his company to continue building affordable homes

“I know that this might have shocked the system, may have created some controversy and some emotions on all ends, Marquess said. “But I think when we look at what the staff did through their hard efforts…we see that this has worked out for the best for everybody.”

Aaron Wirth a developer with Cobblestone Homes, said he was shocked to hear about the original law that was adopted in October. He said while the amendment was helpful, the ordinance is still frustrating.

“As a developer, it just adds a lot of complication to an already complicated process,” said Wirth.

Alderwoman Marsh asked the other council members to consider tabling the issue until the next meeting to give the public more time to weigh in since the proposal was amended tonight. Alderman La Tour said he thinks the public has had enough time to consider the overall idea. Alderman Schoppmeyer moved to send the ordinance to its third and final reading, with Alderman Long seconding that motion. The motion passed 7-1 with Alderwoman Marsh voting against.

In the final vote, the ordinance passed unanimously.


Quick Summary: The ordinance passed, but was amended to relax the applicability from lots with 46-69 feet of street frontage to only lots with 50 feet of frontage or fewer. No variance is required.


New Business

1. RZN 16-5474 (south of 1297 E. Farmers Road/Hale) (Details): An ordinance to rezone that property described in rezoning petition RZN 16-5474 for approximately 1.28 acres located south of 1297 E. Farmers Road from R-A, Residential Agricultural and RSF-4, Residential Single Family, 4 units per acre to RSF-7, Residential Single Family, 7 units per acre.
Pass 8-0


2. Kessler Mountain Conservation Easement (Details): A resolution to authorize Mayor Jordan to sign a grant of conservation easement to the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust for the preservation of Kessler Mountain.
Pass 7-1

Notes: Alderman La Tour said he doesn’t like the idea of conserving the land in perpetuity. He said he would rather see an easement agreement that would require renewal at some point to give future generations the chance to decide if the area should continue to be preserved. La Tour was the only alderman to vote against the resolution.

3. RZN 16-5483 (NE corner of Morningside & 15th Street/Rausch Coleman) (Details): An ordinance to rezone that property described in rezoning petition RZN 16-5483 for approximately 36 acres located at the northeast corner of Morningside Drive and 15th Street from RSF-4, Residential Single Family, 4 units per acre to NC, Neighborhood Conservation, subject to a bill of assurance.
Pass 8-0


4. RZN 16-5501 (1030 S. College Ave./K. Smith) (Details): An ordinance to rezone that property described in rezoning petition RZN 16-5501 for approximately 0.17 acres located at 1030 S. College Ave. from NC, Neighborhood Conservation to NS, Neighborhood Services.
Pass 8-0


Announcements

– A grand opening celebration is planned for the new regional park from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 20. Read more here.


Adjourned

This meeting was adjourned at 6:38 p.m.

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