Council votes to require soil inspection, annex 99 acres

The Fayetteville City Council voted 5-2 to require soil inspection prior to developing land in the Hillside/Hilltop Overlay District.

The original ordinance that established the district was passed in 2006; however, former Mayor Dan Coody vetoed the provision requiring a geotechnical analysis of the soil, which typically cost several thousands of dollars, said Karen Minkel, director of strategic planning and internal consulting for the city. In contrast, for this amendment, the city mandates a certified architect or engineer to inspect the soil, which would run a several hundred dollars, she said.

About 75 percent of the building permits issued in the Hillside/Hilltop Overlay District are located in expansive clay soils, which are prone to failure. The cost to repair a poor foundation could add up to between $20,000 and $40,000, Minkel added.

Bobby Ferrell said he did not support the measure because of the mandated additional cost it places on the builder.

“In this particular case, the city is placing itself between the property owner and their discretion,” Ferrell said.

Before the vote, Mayor Lioneld Jordan weighed in on the matter, saying when he worked as a carpenter in Fayetteville he always thought there should be something in place to ensure homeowners and realtors knew what they were buying.

“I supported it then. I will support it now,” Jordan said.

Ward 3 Aldermen Robert Rhoads and Ferrell voted against the ordinance.

Aldermen also agreed to annex 99 acres of Johnson into Fayetteville city limits.

The acreage is north of Van Acshe Drive and will allow the city to continue to grow with residential and commercial developments and provides additional access to our mall area, Mayor Jordan wrote in a memorandum to the council.

By accepting the annexation, Fayetteville will enter into a sewage and water contract. David Jurgens, Fayetteville’s utilities director, ensured that the city has the capacity to serve the additional customers.

In other business, the ordinance to authorize the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau to manage the monthly First Thursday events was passed. City staff cited a need for an entity, other than the city administration, be given control of the event in order for it to continue to be successful. There were no votes against the measure.

Also at the meeting, Matthew Petty’s ordinance that would call for festival organizers to open their books for review failed 6-1.

Requiring organizers to share the information would allow the city to “better account for tax collection so that we can better asses the economic benefit” of the festivals, Petty said.

Steve Clark, president of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, spoke against the ordinance, saying it was arbitrary and “strikes fear in the heart of any reasonable businessman.”

During the council’s discussion of the measure, Alderman Ferrell said it could turn Fayetteville “into a ghost town of festivals.” It sends a negative message to potential new festivals, he said.

Petty was the only alderman in favor of the ordinance.

The measure that would allow the Farmer’s Market to operate during First Thursday events was left on the first reading. Mayor Jordan said that some things still needed to be worked out before the council discusses the issue.

Mary Robbins is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She declared Fayetteville as her hometown upon moving here for college. She is a Journalism graduate who enjoys live music, the outdoors and attending city council meetings. For more of Mary’s contributions, visit her author page.