Fayetteville City Council recap: Jan. 18, 2022

Flyer file photo

On the agenda…

  • Relaunching a vaccine incentive program and creating a COVID sick leave bank for city employees.
  • Changes to the city’s short-term rental rules.
  • A temporary mask mandate to coincide with the Omicron variant’s surge.
  • A R-PZD request for 13.65 acres on Razorback Road.
  • Changes to the city’s accessory dwelling units rules.
  • Amending the council’s rules of order and procedure.

» Download the full agenda

Meeting Info

A meeting of the Fayetteville City Council began at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. It is lived streamed on the city’s YouTube channel, and held at City Hall in Room 219, or virtually on Zoom.

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


Roll Call

Present: Sonia Harvey, D’Andre Jones, Mark Kinion, Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Sloan Scroggin, Sarah Bunch, Teresa Turk, Holly Hertzberg
Absent: None
» View current attendance records


Mayor’s Announcements, Proclamations and Recognitions

1. Presentation of the City of Fayetteville Martin Luther King Brotherhood Award

Notes: This year’s award goes to Michael Strong in the water department. He led a crew for 22 hours straight in September to repair a major water main break in the middle of a storm. He also saved a kitten from a water drain on Christmas Day.

Consent

Consent items are approved in a single, all-inclusive vote unless an item is pulled by a council member at the beginning of the meeting.

1. Approval of the Jan. 4 City Council meeting minutes
Pass 7-0

2. Krapff Reynolds Construction Company (Details): A resolution to approve a one-year extension to the contract with Krapff Reynolds Construction Company in the amount of $590,789.00 for rehabilitation of sanitary sewer manholes throughout Fayetteville, and to approve a change order providing for a 5% price increase on item costs.
Pass 7-0

3. Black & Veatch Water and Sewer Rate Study (Details): A resolution to approve an increase in project contingency funds in the amount of $25,000.00 for scope of work modifications as needed for the water and sewer rate study being performed by Black & Veatch Corporation.
Pass 7-0

4. Fayetteville Fire Department Administrative Operating Procedure Policy (Details): A resolution to approve Fayetteville Fire Department Administrative Operating Procedure Policy AOP-101, General Information and Introduction.
Pass 7-0

5. Amend Resolution 343-21 Service Appreciation Pay Budget Adjustment (Details): A resolution to amend Resolution 343-21 and approve a budget adjustment increasing the 2021 Budget by the amount of $19,274.00 to reconcile actual expenses on checks given to employees as part of the service appreciation pay.
Pass 7-0

6. Renew Public Vaccine Incentive and Establish Covid Sick Bank (Details): A resolution authorizing Mayor Jordan to renew a program to encourage unvaccinated employees of businesses in Fayetteville and Fayetteville residents to get vaccinated, and to establish a Covid-19 sick leave bank for city staff with a Covid-19 diagnosis to cover a 5-day quarantine period.
Pass 7-0


Unfinished Business

1. R-PZD 2021-00005 (1032 S. Razorback Rd./The Retreat at Fayetteville) (Details)

An ordinance to approve a Residential Planned Zoning District entitled R-PZD 2021-000005 for approximately 13.65 acres located at 1032 South Razorback Road.
Pass 6-1

Background:
The property is in south Fayetteville, east of Razorback Road, and roughly 800 feet south of the intersection with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The site is mostly undeveloped with the exception of a large storage building near its frontage. The Santa Fe Pacific Corporation has a railroad that runs through the southwest corner of the property. Significant vegetation is present throughout most of the site with the exception of the area developed with the storage facility and where overhead power lines are present near the southeast corner of the property.

The applicant proposed an R-PZD with two planning areas:

Planning Area #1 – 10.04 acres – Intended for multi-family residential development with 16 multi-family buildings, a clubhouse/leasing office, and a four-story parking structure. A total of 142 units are proposed for a total density of 10.4 units per acre. The proposed maximum building height is five stories, but stepback requirements would limit the height to two stories for portions of the building within 10 feet of the public right-of-way, and to three stories within 10-20 feet of the public right-of-way.

Planning Area #2 – 3.61 acres – Intended for tree preservation, detention, and outdoor recreation. Structures are limited to 25 feet in height.

Both city planners and the Planning Commission recommend approval.

Location:

Jan. 4 Discussion:
Staff said if developed, Stadium Drive would be extended and connected, which could alleviate traffic congestion in the area. Turk asked who would pay for that. Staff said the developer would be solely responsible for that extension.

Turk asked how many trees would be removed from the area if the development is approved. Turk also asked how many cars are expected at the development considering five unrelated people would be allowed per unit. Staff said a tree study is not required with a PZD application so that information is not available. As for parking, the city’s code requires one parking space per bedroom. The applicant said the design for the project includes more parking than is required by city code.

There was no public comment.

Turk said she would like to hold the item on the first reading to allow more time for the public to consider the project. The council agreed. The discussion will continue on Jan. 18.

Jan. 18 Discussion:
Turk said she’s still concerned about how many trees would be lost in this area if it’s developed. She also said she thinks five people in a unit might be too many. “It’s too much impervious surface, and it’s too dense,” she said.

Scroggin said the city has approved subdivisions with tree loss for projects that provide homes for far fewer people in town, so he will support it.

Harvey said it’s the right location for more housing, and while she isn’t excited about the tree loss, she will likely support it.

Decision:
The council voted 7-1 to approve the ordinance. Turk voted against.


2. Amend § 151.01 Definitions, § 164.19 Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and §164.22 Cluster Housing Development (Details)

An ordinance to amend § 151.01 Definitions, § 164.19 Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and §164.22 Cluster Housing Development of the Fayetteville Unified Development Code to amend requirements for accessory dwelling units.
Pass 7-0

Background:
Accessory dwelling units were first approved in 2008 to address housing needs and encourage appropriate infill. For the next 10 years, only one or two applications were submitted per year for ADUs, which staff said was due to tight restrictions that required separate utility metering, a deed restriction mandating the owner live on the property, and minimum parking standards regardless of ADU size.

That original 2008 ordinance was replace in 2018, and removed the deed restrictions, loosened the parking standards, allowed shared utility metering, and added the allowance for up to two ADUs with a single-family detached home. Those changes increased applications for ADUs to about nine per year, but staff said that number is still too low to meaningfully impact housing options.

The proposed revisions on the table now represent what staff calls a “continuation of the gradual easing in” of ADU standards that began in 2008. Changes include:

  • Revise the definition of an “accessory use or structure” to exempt accessory dwelling units from the size limit in relation to a property’s principal dwelling.
  • Revise the definition of “dwelling, accessory” to permit accessory dwelling unit construction in association with 2-family dwellings.
  • Allow three accessory dwellings, two detached and one attached, per lot.
  • Remove the height limitation on second-story attached accessory dwellings where the roofline may exceed that of the principal dwelling.
  • Permit accessory dwelling units as a conditional use within cluster housing developments where they are currently prohibited.

Both city planners and the Planning Commission recommend approval.

Jan. 4 Discussion:
During public comment, two people spoke in favor of the changes, including Paxton Roberts, who said he uses an ADU to save money and for housing to care for his aging mother. Roberts suggested allowing more square footage in the future to at least allow an ADU to be comparable to an apartment.

Kinion said he’d like to leave the item on the first reading to allow more time to consider the proposal. The council agreed. The discussion will continue on Jan. 18.

Jan. 18 Discussion:
During public comment, one person spoke in favor of the changes and one was opposed. The person who spoke against said the change might give developers an opportunity to skirt the system and add an inappropriate amount of units to a particular area.

Scroggin said he doesn’t think the changes will lead to people taking advantage of the new rules, but if that starts happening, the council can always make more changes to solve the problem. For now, however, he said the city needs more housing and this ordinance could immediately help with that issue.

Turk said the height changes and allowing three units could be solved by a conditional use permit on an individual basis. These changes, she said, are too broad and would be “doing too much too quickly.”

Harvey said the council should remember one of its main goals, which is creating more affordable housing. More incentives for ADUs could help with that issue, she said. Plus, more flexibility to have an aging family member living on your property is also an attractive idea, she said.

“There are a lot of check boxes that this is ticking for me,” said Harvey.

Turk asked if Scroggin would consider an amendment to stick with only one detached ADU per lot (and also one attached). Scroggin said yes, as long as a second could be added through approval of a variance from the Planning Commission. Scroggin moved to amend the ordinance to include those changes.

The amendment passed 6-1 with Hertzberg voting against.

Decision:
The amended ordinance passed 7-0.


3. Amend the Rules of Order and Procedure (Details)

A resolution to amend the Rules of Order and Procedure of the Fayetteville City Council concerning public comments.
Pass 5-2

Background:
Council Member Teresa Turk is proposing two changes to the council’s rules.

The first change would end the segmentation of the speaking period for public comment. The current rule, which was adopted on June 16, 2020, calls for a three-minute timer that begins when a person starts to speak, and once the timer reaches zero, it begins to count negative for two additional minutes. The proposal is to have one unified five-minute speaking period.

The second change is to allow every public speaker to use electronic visual aids during their five-minute speaking period as long as they provide their media to the city’s IT staff before the meeting. The current rules require the council to vote on whether visual aids can be used.

Jan. 4 Discussion:
Hertzberg asked how soon before a meeting Turk would like people to provide their media to city staff. City Attorney Kit Williams said the proposal leaves it up to the IT Department to handle the media and to decide on timing to give them a chance to adapt and change their procedures if there are issues getting visual aids ready in time for the meeting.

City Clerk Treasurer Kara Paxton said people can currently upload their media when signing up for an item to speak about before the meeting. She said she’s a little uncomfortable with having another department sift through information and possibly decide whether it’s allowed before it gets to the council. City Attorney Kit Williams said the IT Department would not be deciding whether something is allowed to be presented, but rather to ensure the media does not contain a virus that could harm the city’s computer system.

There was no public comment.

Kinion suggested tabling the item until the next meeting to give more time for consideration. That motion passed 7-0. The discussion will continue on Jan. 18.

Jan. 18 Discussion:
Paxton said she is still uncomfortable with having another department check presentations since, while unlikely, it presents an opportunity for information to be censored.

City Attorney Kit Williams said the mayor is the gatekeeper of information and there are no other city staff members who are allowed to sift through information and determine whether it’s appropriate for the meeting.

Decision:
The council voted 5-2 to approve the changes. Scroggin and Jones voted against. Hertzberg abstained. Jordan voted in favor.


New Business

1. Amend Fayetteville Code of Ordinances – Short-term Rental Density Limits (Details)

An ordinance to amend §118.01 Applicability of Chapter 118 Business Registry and Licenses, Chapter 151 Definitions, and Chapter 161 Zoning Regulations of the Unified Development Code to permit short-term rentals in additional zoning districts and to increase the allowable number of short-term rentals in attached residential units where adequate fire protection is present.
Pass 6-0

Background:
There are two proposed changes to the city’s short-term rental rules.

The first change would allow short-term rentals in nonresidential zoning districts that don’t already permit hotels or motels.

City staff said there are some non-conforming homes in either commercial or industrial districts that are occupied as homes, and some of their owners would like to be able to rent them out. Those homes were inadvertently left out of the original ordinance, they said.

The second change would remove a density cap on short-term rentals operating in multifamily buildings. Right now, only one unit or 10% of all units in a multifamily building can be used as a Type 2 short-term rental, whichever is greater.

» Read more in our Jan. 14 story

Discussion:
Turk said she would recuse from the discussion and vote since she owns a property that could be affected by these changes.

Decision:
The council voted 6-0 to approve the ordinance.


2. Emergency Shelters for Homeless Persons (Details)

A resolution to approve a budget adjustment of $21,442.00 to partially fund emergency shelters for homeless persons provided by 7Hills Homeless Center, Genesis Church, Central United Methodist Church and Northwest Arkansas Continuum of Care when the Salvation Army shelter and other shelters are fully occupied during dangerously cold nights.
Pass 7-0

Background:
This proposal was brought forward by Council Member D’Andre Jones. It would help fund a project to deliver emergency services to people who are unsheltered during extreme winter weather this year.

According to the plan, services would only be used when the Salvation Army shelter reaches capacity at its emergency shelter. Services would be provided at an additional overnight shelter inside Genesis Church at 205 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Fayetteville. Operating hours will be from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Guests will sleep on cots with pillows and blankets. A boxed dinner will be available each night, and transportation will be provided to and from local homeless camps, the Salvation Army and the 7Hills Day Center.

Genesis Church and New Beginnings will staff the shelter in January, and the Salvation Army will staff the shelter in February, according to a project description in the agenda packet.

7Hills would serve as the fiscal agent for the project and the other groups are partners.

Discussion:
Hertzberg asked whether the money would be spent on supplies or staffing. Williams said the packet includes the full budget. Here it is:

Decision:
The council approved the resolution 7-0.


3. Face Masks in Public Service Areas (Details)

An ordinance to require persons to wear face masks in public service areas in city-owned buildings and places of public accommodation subject to reasonable exemptions.
Pass 6-1

Background:
This proposal is for a short-term mask mandate to coincide with the recent spike in new COVID-19 cases.

The city’s most recent mandate expired Dec. 23, but with the Omicron variant’s surge leading to record highs for new cases, Council Member Teresa Turk has called for a new ordinance that would temporarily require masks indoors in public places and city-owned buildings.

Because of the possibility that the Omicron variant will lead to a rapid decline after the initial surge, the proposed mandate would automatically terminate on March 2, unless the council extends it before then.

» Read more in our Jan. 11 story

Discussion:
City Attorney Kit Williams said the proposed ordinance does not have an enforcement section in it, but rather serves as a message that the council supports mask wearing.

Williams said that doesn’t mean businesses can’t still set their own policies and enforce mask wearing for their customers.

Turk said the variant is running rampant and the state just today reported the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

“I’m tired of wearing the masks and and I know everyone else is, too, but I think these steps are necessary so our healthcare system doesn’t collapse,” said Turk. “I think it’s important that we send a strong message of mask support to our citizens.”

Hertzberg said she’d prefer to only have this apply only to city-owned buildings since that’s the only place the city can actually enforce the policy.

Chief of Police Mike Reynolds said he agrees with Hertzberg. “It’s just too widespread to enforce city-wide,” he said.

Scroggin said enforceability is important. “It makes us look kind of silly if we have laws that we can’t enforce,” he said.

Turk said private business owners who want to enforce masks in their own buildings might feel more comfortable if there was a city mandate already in place.

Harvey agreed with Turk, and said if more business owners require masks, then more employees can be protected. “It’s just responsible at this point as a city to stand up for workers,” she said.

Jones agree with Turk and Harvey. “Even though it’s not enforceable, it shows that we are responsible and we care about the well-being of our citizens,” he said.

Bunch also agreed, and said this mandate can be used as a tool for business owners.

Hertzberg said the council doesn’t have the power to change public opinion and everyone has already made up their mind about masking. “I don’t think this is good policy,” she said.

Kinion said he knows people have made up their minds, but he will vote in favor to show that he cares about the health of the community. “My personal values say that we should be wearing masks, which is why I will be supporting this,” he said.

Scroggin said he also values wearing masks so he’ll support the mandate, but he doesn’t think it will change anyone’s mind. “This is, at best, virtue signaling, but I guess I will do it with you all,” he said.

Mayor Jordan said he thinks it’s important to send a message. “I think we need to support this and move on with it,” he said.

Decision:
The council voted 6-1 to approve the ordinance. Hertzberg voted against.


Adjourned

This meeting was adjourned at 8:19 p.m.

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