Council inches closer to a five-member Planning

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Eureka Springs City Council met March 11 with a full slate of aldermen but slim public attendance. 

Aldermen took to the subject of Ord. 2275 for the revoking of Ord. 2179 which provides guidelines for seven people to serve on the Planning Commission and one of those members may be a council member. 

Alderman Bob Thomas said there has been one resignation and one pending resignation from Planning, “So membership is technically down to five now.” 

Alderman Mickey Schneider argued in favor of the new ordinance stating that there should be no council member on the commission to prevent double voting in the event of a dispute. 

Melissa Greene countered with the concern of the Planning Commission not having a quorum to vote. “I know we’re discussing taking it down to five members and that is something I am just not happy with.” Greene argued that an alderman on Planning could act a liaison between the council and the commission. 

Vote on the second reading passed 4 – 2, with Greene and Thomas opposed. The third and final reading will be up for a vote at the next regular meeting.

In other actions, Peggy Duncan was appointed to Position Two of the Eureka Springs Hospital Commission, and City Building Inspector Bobby Ray provided a code enforcement report which he said he will provide quarterly. 

Since Jan. 1, 59 permits have been issued for a total of $6,186 in collections. There were 18 enforcement notices with the majority attributed to prohibited signs, and 19 Certificates of Occupancy permits issued. Ray said the city will begin sending out between six and eight notices each month to both residential and commercial owners whose sidewalks need repair. Sidewalk repair is the sole responsibility of the property owner. 

There were two public comments, one from Chamber of Commerce Interim Director Damon Henke, the other from Chris Fischer representing Tree City USA. Henke reminded everyone of the Chamber’s Morning Brew the second Tuesday of every month at 8 a.m. at the Community Center, and said the Tourism Trade Show & Season Kickoff will be April 23 at the Inn of the Ozarks Convention Center from 1 – 7 p.m. 

This event is for local attraction operators and event producers to present the Top 5 things to know about their attraction or event, to 100+ front line employees, owners, and managers. 

Fischer of the Tree City USA Committee provided a review of the current tree programs related to the Arkansas Forestry Commission Urban and Community Forest Grant from the Parks Service. 

“I do believe that the Urban Forestry Management Plan needs to make some progress while we have this opportunity,” Fischer said. “If climate change is a growing consideration our forest is going to play a huge role in the quality of our lives.” 

Eureka Springs is the oldest Tree City USA in Arkansas.

Land vacated, no bidding on ESFD breathers

Ord. 2276 to vacate a portion of Midway Alley and return a portion to the adjoining landowners. The ordinance passed unanimously on its third and final vote.    

The final item of business waived the requirements of competitive bidding for the purpose of purchasing self-contained breathing apparatus for the Eureka Springs Fire Department for a cost not to exceed $76,606.25 expiring no later than April 5. 

Mayor Butch Berry stated the budget has been approved, but improvements recommended for the equipment owned by the city should be from the same company of the proprietary equipment. The ordinance passed unanimously through to the third and final reading. 

Greene recommended discussing lead and copper reports from the Public Works for the next meeting, Monday, March 25 at 6 p.m. in the Auditorium.