Vision Plan gets fresh air

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Mayor Butch Berry had no appraisal to provide the council Monday evening on the city-owned Norris St. property across from the Eureka Springs Hospital. However, he stated there might be a party interested in leasing it if the city chooses not to sell, and he would have more information at the next meeting. 

Alderman Bob Thomas provided a Request For Action to review the Vision Plan for Eureka Springs, describing Ord. 1766 that was adopted Nov. 12, 1997. This ordinance put in place six design proposals, physical improvements, and 10 urban design policies that focus on major development and environmental concerns.

However, after 22 years since inception, Thomas was concerned that little to no reports have been made as to the progress of the Vision Plan saying, “This failure to report is unfortunate.” As a remedy, Thomas laid out an organized plan to get the city back on track. 

He proposed that council work with the Planning Commission to research and report on each of the 16 items, bringing the results together at a workshop where the Vision Plan could be discussed, edited, and updated in a reasonable timeframe. “I just think it’s a great opportunity for us all to work on a common goal,” Thomas said. 

Alderman Susan Harman, however, was adamantly against council doing the legwork and said she believed the research work should be done by staff at city hall at the Planning Commission’s direction. 

Harman’s opposition killed the action with only four voting members present, as aldermen Terry McClung and Melissa Greene were not at the meeting and a 3-to-1 vote was not enough to pass Thomas’s proposal. Before another motion was made, Berry looked at Thomas and advised, “Be careful not to micromanage what the Planning Commission is doing… you are looking at me funny… we need to be careful.” 

Harman then made her own motion to request that the Planning Commission with its four members, two who are new, review this on their own. Thomas, who originally submitted the work for this agenda item as intended to be a team-learning experience, did not oppose, and the motion passed unanimously. 

Letter reading still an issue

At the request of Harman and alderman Mickey Schneider, council discussed appointing someone to read absent citizens’ letters after the council majority had already voted against this at the previous regular meeting. Thomas pointed out that this discussion was out of order due to the Roberts Rules stating, “The motion to reconsider may be made only by a member who voted on the prevailing side in the original vote.” To that point, City Attorney Tim Weaver advised Harman and Schneider against opposing a policy already voted on stating, “You cannot violate the majority rule.” 

Harman and Schneider decided if necessary they would make an agenda item to discuss and read any citizen’s letter requested to be read.

Council cancelled the May 27 meeting due to Memorial Day; the next regular meeting will be Monday, June 10, at 6 p.m. at the Auditorium.