Fayetteville City Council recap: Nov. 1, 2022

Flyer file photo

On the agenda…

  • Changes to the city’s short-term rental permitting process.
  • An agreement for a mixed-use building at the south end of the Upper Ramble.
  • Purchasing 223 acres of land near Dead Horse Mountain Road for conservation.
  • Adding Personal Services as a permitted use in Use Unit 25.
  • Vacating a utility easement for JJ’s Live.

» Download the agenda

Meeting info

A meeting of the Fayetteville City Council began at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022 inside City Hall in Room 219. The meeting is also available on Zoom and is broadcast live on the city’s YouTube channel.

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, Mike Wiederkehr, Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Sloan Scroggin, Sarah Bunch, Teresa Turk, Holly Hertzberg
Absent: None

» View current attendance records


City Council Meeting Presentations, Reports and Discussion Items

1. Monthly Financial Report


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 Oct. 4 and Oct. 18, 2022 City Council Meeting Minutes.
Pass 8-0

2. Samsara, Inc. (Details): A resolution to approve a master license, service agreement, and quote from Samsara, Inc. for the purchase of vehicle monitoring equipment and services pursuant to a Sourcewell cooperative purchasing contract on an as needed basis.
Pass 8-0

3. Police Department Ammunition State Contract (Details): A resolution to approve the purchase of ammunition as needed by the Fayetteville Police Department from various manufacturers, pursuant to the State of Arkansas Ammunition Contract, for an initial term through January 23, 2023 and as renewed by the state each year through January 23, 2029.
Pass 8-0

4. Hazmat Revenue from Washington County (Details): A resolution to approve a budget adjustment in the amount of $4,169.00 recognizing hazmat services revenue received from Washington County and increasing the related expense budget.
Pass 8-0

5. Big Bear Shredding (Details): A resolution to authorize the destruction of certain records shown on the attached affidavit pursuant to relevant sections of the Arkansas Code related to maintenance and destruction of accounting and other city records.
Pass 8-0

6. TSW, Inc., Walker Park Master Plan (Details): A resolution to authorize a contract with TSW, Inc., pursuant to RFQ 22-01, Selection 10, in the amount of $94,500.00, to provide master plan design services for Walker Community Park, to approve a project contingency in the amount of $5,000.00, and to approve a budget adjustment – Park Improvement Bond Project.
Pass 8-0

7. Rodney Ryan Park Sidewalk (Details): A resolution to approve a budget adjustment in the total amount of $16,615.00 recognizing park land dedication fees from the southwest park quadrant to be used for improvements to Rodney Ryan Park.
Pass 8-0

8. Graybar Electric Company, Inc. (Details): A resolution to approve the purchase of electrical conduit, wire and fittings from Graybar Electric Company, Inc. in the amount of $42,911.15 plus applicable taxes and freight charges, pursuant to an Omnia Partners cooperative purchasing contract.
Pass 8-0


Unfinished Business

1. Amend §118.01 Applicability, §151.01 Definitions and §163.18 Short-term Rentals (Details)

An ordinance to amend §118.01 applicability of the Fayetteville City Code, and § 151.01 Definitions and §163.18 Short-term Rentals of the Unified Development Code to remove the conditional use permit requirement for Type 2 short-term rentals, and to repeal the sunset provision.
Tabled 8-0 until Dec. 6

Background:
This item would remove a rule that requires owners of short-term rentals to get a permit from the Planning Commission before they can begin operating. They would still have to get a business license and a safety inspection to operate legally in Fayetteville.

City staff last month said after working with the new regulations for over 15 months, some adjustments can be made to streamline the approval process.

» See our Sept. 13 story for more on this topic

Oct. 4 Discussion:
Scroggin asked how many permits have been revoked. Staff said zero. Scroggin said that’s concerning to him because he’s heard some severe complaints from neighbors of short-term rentals that possibly should’ve led to an STR owner losing their permit. He said he’s not sure he can support removing the permit requirement altogether.

“We have to start removing some of the bad actors,” said Scroggin.

Harvey said she’d like some more time to consider the proposal. City staff said they’d be fine with leaving the item of the first reading for now.

The council agreed to hold the item on the first reading. The discussion will continue on Oct. 18.

Oct. 18 Discussion:
Staff reminded the council that the city’s short-term rental ordinance is set to expire in December under the sunset provision.

During public comment, three residents spoke against removing the requirement for a conditional use permit.

One said they’re opposed to doing anything that would make it easier for people to operate a short-term rental in the city, especially out-of-town investors who are just trying to profit from day-to-day rentals in established neighborhoods.

“If somebody has $400,000 to buy a house should have to come here and live in it,” they said.

Another resident agreed, and said obtaining a the permit should remain a part of the process.

“It’s the only way for neighbors to have a voice on an issue that directly affects them,” they said.

Councilmember Kinion said he’d like to leave the ordinance on the second reading to gather more input from residents.

Councilmember Turk agreed, and said she’d like to find out more about the estimated 300 short-term rentals that are operating without a permit, so the city can have a better idea of how many STR units there are considering the ordinance has an overall cap on how many are allowed.

Councilmember Scroggin said residents need a say in whether short-term rentals should be allowed in their neighborhoods, but he’s unsure about adding a neighborhood or street density cap since that could create monopolies. Councilmember Hertzberg agreed.

Councilmember Wiederkehr said maybe the council should extend the sunset clause while working on fine-tuning the ordinance instead of allowing it to expire. He also said he’d like to consider reducing the citywide density cap from 2% to 1% of all residential units in the city.

The council agreed to leave the ordinance on the second reading. The discussion will continue on Nov. 1.

Nov. 1 Discussion:
Staff would like to make some amendments to the ordinance in response to questions and requests from council members. Staff have also requested the item be tabled until Nov. 15 in order to make those changes and bring them back for consideration.

Kinion suggested forwarding the proposal to the council’s Ordinance Review Committee to fine-tune it before voting.

The council voted 8-0 to table the ordinance to Dec. 6 and forward it to the Ordinance Review Committee.


2. Reindl Properties, Inc. (Details / Memos 1 / Memos 2 )

A resolution to authorize Mayor Jordan to sign a letter of intent defining development agreement terms with Reindl Properties, Inc. for a public private partnership for construction of the mixed-use building planned to provide ground floor active uses for the Ramble civic plaza on the southern end of the site.
Pass 7-1

Background:
This item would authorize the mayor to sign a letter of intent to enter a public-private partnership with Reindl Properties, Inc. for a mixed-use building at the south end of what’s currently known as the Walton Arts Center parking lot on West Avenue. The area is set to be completely redeveloped into a civic plaza and park. This agreement would allow Reindl to purchase the land needed for the building, which would include a private hotel with some public facilities.

» See more about the project in our July 23 story

City Attorney Kit Williams has some concerns about the letter of intent, and said in a Oct. 11 memo he believes that the way it’s written qualifies it as a binding contract. In a second memo on Oct. 17, Williams suggested adding some non-binding agreement language to the letter of intent to resolve the confusion. In a third memo on Oct. 18, Williams pointed out some terms of the agreement that still give him concerns.

» Read all the memos here

Location:

Oct. 18 Discussion:
Architect Rob Sharp gave a presentation to try and address some issues that have been voiced about adding a hotel near Dickson Street, such as where customers will park. Sharp said studies show 70% of guests use valet parking and 30% prefer to hunt for parking elsewhere.

Hertzberg asked where the other 30% will park. Sharp said they will do what everyone else will do, which is to use one of the nearby parking decks or the on-street spaces.

Kinion suggested tabling the resolution to allow time to consider some of the issues that have been brought up, particularly whether the parking plan is sound.

Bunch said she likes valet parking at a hotel because she prefers to walk around a downtown area and not worry about her car when traveling. However, she said tabling the resolution to get more information is a good idea.

Turk said when the public voted on this issue, they voted on a building at the south end of the property, but not necessarily a hotel. She said this decision feels rushed.

Bunch said the bond issue presented a broad idea for the arts corridor, but it wasn’t definitive. She said she believes a hotel does fit with the vision that was presented to voters, and that an idea of a new downtown hotel has been discussed for many years.

Jones and Harvey said they like the proposal, and the downtown area needs more hotels if the creative economy is going to grow in the way that the city envisions. Both said taking more time to look at some of the issues is fine.

Six people spoke against approving the resolution tonight, including Steve Clark, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and developer Ted Belden who is working on a separate hotel project across Dickson Street.

Those against said more time is needed to examine the parking situation. Some said they simply don’t want to see a hotel next to the new civic space.

Seven people spoke in favor of building the hotel, including several downtown business owners like Kevin Frey of Puritan, Bo Counts of Pinpoint, and Jerry Davis of 21st Amendment, Rogers Rec and Los Bobos.

Those who spoke in favor said the downtown area needs more hotel rooms and while parking is important, that’s something that can be ironed out in the design process by the hotel developers.

Frey said he recently removed parking spaces at his business to expand outdoor eating options. He said if you build things that are a draw, people will come whether there’s parking or not.

The council voted 8-0 to table the resolution until the Nov. 1 meeting.

Nov. 1 Discussion:
Justin Clay, the city’s parking manager, gave a presentation about parking in the entertainment district. He said the district is approaching about 90% capacity, especially on the weekends and during events. To manage that, the city encourages the use of its employee parking program and the use of valet parking for businesses. When the Police Department moves into its new facility, a 55-space will be open for use, and the city’s 100-space employee parking lot near the square can also be used for valet parking, he said.

From Clay’s presentation:

Developer Brian Reindl said after hearing concerns about parking, his team reduced the number of planned hotel rooms from 170-134 and added some on-site parking. The valet program, he said, will park cars outside the area, so at this point, and based on industry standards, his plan will not overwhelm the parking system.

Architect Rob Sharp said he wrote down the questions that were asked at the previous meeting, and gave a presentation answering those questions. Questions included concerns about valet parking, a sun/shade study, amenities, landscaping, bike trail integration, and estimated job creation.

» See the slides from Sharp’s presentation

Councilmember Jones asked Molly Rawn some questions about the project. Rawn is CEO of Experience Fayetteville, the city’s tourism bureau. Rawn said data shows the city does need another hotel, and while the concerns about the Reindl project are valid, they can all be worked out if the council moves the project forward instead of continuing to table it.

Bo Counts, owner of Pinpoint on Block Avenue, said his philosophy is that hotels don’t take parking away from businesses, they bring customers to businesses. He said he has zero parking spaces designated for his business even with the Graduate Fayetteville hotel just around the corner. He said a new hotel near Dickson Street will be as good for that street’s businesses as the Graduate is for those on Block Avenue.

Twenty people spoke during public comment, including 13 who spoke against the project.

Several of those against the plan said they are current or former members of the Walton Arts Center Council who are concerned about a new hotel taking parking spaces away from the district.

Todd Martin, who owns Theo’s and is chair of the A&P Commission, said he’s not against a downtown hotel, but said parking is a problem on Dickson Street and he’d rather see a development with underground parking that doesn’t take away from the surrounding area.

While most of those against the plan focused on parking, a couple of people mentioned concerns about language in the letter of intent with Reindl and the city’s RFP process for the project.

Former Councilmember Sarah Marsh said the same people who are speaking against the hotel were originally against the cultural arts corridor project because of fears over parking, and insisted the city build a new parking deck before they would support the idea. The decision to build that deck, she said, is one of only a few things she regrets from her time on the council, partially because it led to the Arsaga family moving out of their depot location, but also because the same people are back making the same arguments against another new proposal in the area.

“We acquiesced, but it still wasn’t enough,” said Marsh. “We never should have conceded to their demands then, and you shouldn’t now.”

Councilmember Bunch asked if there was anything different about the RFP process for this project than the other RFPs that the city issues since some people have asked about that. Staff said no, this project was handled the same as all other RFPs. Staff said the city put out the RFP on Aug. 29, 2021 and received one response – from Reindl – on Oct. 26, 2021. Staff said discussions were also had with local businesses and organizations in the spring to talk about the project, and the hotel plans were then discussed publicly in meetings and news reports in July.

Bunch said the timeline of events for this project began over a year ago and have included several opportunities for people to weigh in. She questioned why people have become so organized against this proposal now when it’s been known for so long that the city had a vision for a building at the south end of the civic space and the process since then has been standard practice.

Jones said while he wasn’t on the council for the bond decision, he doesn’t see how anyone could feel surprised by the proposal.

“It sounds like the city has done its due diligence,” said Jones.

Kinion said the council from the start was specifically shown a concept for a building that could include a variety of uses, one of which was a hotel. He since the only RFP response came from a hotel developer, so maybe that’s why people are feeling surprised.

“There were no other people who came with any of the other concepts,” Kinion said.

Kinion said one outstanding issue seems to be some of the language in the letter of intent, and he suggested tabling the resolution for two weeks to allow time to work through that language.

Jones said he’d like to move forward with the proposal, and make any necessary language adjustments tonight. He said some people have suggested waiting for the Walton Arts Center’s recently announced parking study, but he’s not sure what can be gleaned from that study that isn’t included in the recent city-initiated studies.

Turk said she’d still like more time to consider the proposal, so she’ll support Kinion’s suggestion to table the resolution.

Jones asked Turk what she hopes to learn in the next two weeks if the resolution is tabled.

Turk said she’d like to see a property assessment, a cost-benefit analysis of whether a hotel is the best choice for the area and data about other hotels’ occupancy rates to compare with the expectations of Reindl’s team.

Wiederkehr said while parking is a big deal, it’s the easiest issue to solve. He said he knows there are other concerns as well, but all of those can also be solved in the development process. Wiederkehr said his biggest concern is with the implied binding agreement in the letter of intent.

“I would be completely comfortable if we amended the letter of intent as the city attorney has advised us,” Wiederkehr said.

Harvey asked City Attorney Kit Williams about his concerns with the language in the letter.

“Right now, the letter of intent has several things that are unclear in it,” said Williams. “Those should be cleared up because the way it’s written, they are enforceable.”

Harvey asked if anything could be added to the language to make it unenforceable. Williams said he’s drafted language that could be attached to the letter that could make it enforceable.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he doesn’t think anything about the process for the project has been flawed. He said the city held 18 public input sessions to describe the vision for the cultural arts corridor, one of which included a building and language that suggested a variety of uses, including a hotel.

Jordan said the city needs new hotels and he’ll support anyone who wants to build one.

“I will support this hotel, and I will support another one,” said Jordan. “I would support eight new hotels if someone wants to build them.”

Harvey moved to pass the resolution, but Wiederkehr suggested first amending the letter of intent to include the language drafted by Williams that specifies the letter is a non-binding agreement. The council voted 8-0 to amend the resolution.

Harvey moved to pass the amended resolution. Jones seconded.

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


3. VAC 22-022 (3615 N. Steele Blvd./JJ’s Live) (Details)

An ordinance to approve VAC 22-022 for property located at 3615 N. Steele Blvd. in Ward 3 to vacate a portion of a utility easement.
Pass 8-0

Background:
The property is at the southwest corner of Steele Boulevard and Van Asche Drive and is a part of the CMN Subdivision. It is the site of JJ’S Live. Zoning on the property is currently C-1, Neighborhood Commercial, but is restricted by a Bill of Assurance that permits offices, eating places, and medium-scale retail. The facility recently enclosed much of the performance space, though still maintains the ability to operate as an outdoor music venue through the approved Conditional Use Permit. As a part of that enclosure, the applicant is proposing a loading dock on the north side of the building, which is why the vacation is needed.

City planners recommend approval of the request, with the following conditions:

  1. Any damage or relocation of any existing facilities will be at the applicant’s expense.
  2. Applicant agrees that in the event that at any time in the future, the Utility Company (AEP/SWEPCO) needs to do work in the area of the Utility Easement being vacated and if the canopy posts (located along the building setback line approximately 5 feet south of the Utility Easement line) would interfere with the performance of the work, applicant will temporarily remove the canopy posts at the Applicant’s expense to allow the work to be
    performed without interference.

Location:

Oct. 18 Discussion:
Staff said a third condition should be added to require some planned canopy poles to be removed if necessary. City Attorney Kit Williams said he would be more comfortable getting permission from the applicant before adding any conditions, but the applicant is not present tonight.

The council agreed with Williams and left the item on the first reading. The discussion will continue on Nov. 1.

Nov. 1 Discussion:
There was no public comment.

Decision:
The council advanced the item to the third reading, and voted 8-0 to approve it.


New Business

1. Subrecipient Agreement WCRC Dead Horse Mountain Road Land Purchase (Details)

A resolution to authorize Mayor Jordan to sign a subrecipient agreement with the Watershed Conservation Resource Center for the purchase of about 223 acres of land near Dead Horse Mountain Road utilizing American Rescue Plan Act Funds in the amount of $1,445,400.00, and to approve a budget adjustment.
Pass 8-0

Background:
Since the city can use its ARPA funds to support the protection of water quality and watersheds, the proposal is to buy 223 acres along the West Fork of the White River to conserve it as a functioning floodplain. The Beaver Water District has offered to pay $800,000 towards the cost of the property, and the Watershed Conservation Resource Center has submitted an application with the city requesting $1,445 million in ARPA funds for the purchase.

Officials said the property can provide significant ecological, green infrastructure, and social value to the citizens of Fayetteville for generations to come and that it helps to prevent additional water treatment costs, keeping future drinking water costs for citizens of Fayetteville economical.

Discussion:
Turk said she brought the item forward because the city is at risk of losing the possibility to purchase the land, which should be conserved to ensure the quality of local drinking water.

Sandi Formica, founder and executive director of the Watershed Conservation Resource Center, said the floodplain on the property filters waters that eventually are used for the area’s drinking water, so preserving the land is important.

“This is a very rare opportunity to get a large parcel of land that can project our water quality in one single purchase,” Formica said.

Seven people spoke in favor of the proposal, including Jon Johnson, a professor of sustainability at the University of Arkansas who also serves on the board of the Watershed Conservation Resource Center. Johnson said as flooding becomes more frequent, it becomes more important to identify and protect land that has a direct impact on communities.

“These are exactly the kinds of properties that mitigate flood damage,” Johnson said.

Decision:
The council voted 8-0 to approve the resolution.


2. Amend §162.01 (z) Unit 25 Offices, Studios and Related Services (Details)

An ordinance to amend §162.01 (z) Unit 25 Offices, Studios and Related Services of the Fayetteville Unified Development Code to add Personal Services.
Pass 8-0

Background:
This proposal would add Personal Services as a permitted use in Use Unit 25 Offices, Studios, and Related Services section of the city code. The proposed Personal Services are categorized as barber/salon, dry cleaning, day care, and tailoring.

Staff said the purpose of the amendment is to reduce the administrative hurdles for business owners seeking to open businesses categorized as personal services in the Residential Office zoning district. The amendment would not change the allowed use or conditional use requirements for any of the established zoning districts. Use Unit 25 would still only be allowed with a conditional use permit in Multi-family districts, Neighborhood Services districts, and the Neighborhood Conservation district. Use Unit 25 would also continue to be allowed by right in most of the commercial and industrial zoning districts.

Discussion:
Turk said she’s uncomfortable with dry cleaning being on the list because she doesn’t think the state has strict enough oversight to ensure dry cleaning chemicals are safe for the environment. She said she’d be fine leaving dry cleaning as a conditional use that requires a permit.

The council amended the ordinance 8-0 to remove dry cleaning.

Decision:
The council advanced the item to the third reading, and voted unanimously to approve it.


Adjourned

This meeting was adjourned at 10:55 p.m.

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