Council passes streamside protection ordinance

Photo by Todd Gill / Enlarge
Niokaska Creek at Gulley Park in Fayetteville

After nearly six hours of public comment, the Fayetteville City Council passed a streamside protection ordinance shortly after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

The measure will limit certain activities within 50 feet of local streams in an effort to prevent runoff and erosion from causing harmful nutrients to enter area waterways, some which lead to sources of drinking water.

Arguments against the ordinance came from some of the roughly 1,300 residents who own property near Fayetteville’s streams. Although all existing uses of property are grandfathered in under the ordinance, there were still many residents who expressed concern over local government placing restrictions on the use of their property.

It is my hope that other communities will enact some version of this ordinance, but it is also my belief that none of them will ever do that unless Fayetteville does it first.

— Ward 3 Alderman Justin Tennant

Some of those in favor spoke to the ordinance’s potential to protect against property loss from flood damage and erosion, as well as the possibility that it would help increases the diversity of local wildlife and improve the quality of drinking water.

Bill Moeller, who lives near Razorback Stadium, told the council he was all for the passing of the ordinance. He said that problems caused by an underground stream that undermines the foundation of his house, could have been prevented if similar measures had already been taken.

“If this ordinance had been passed and if it applied to underground streams 50 years ago, I wouldn’t have that problem today,” said Moeller.

Ward 3 Alderman Justin Tennant agreed and said although the ordinance isn’t perfect, he’s proud to be a part of a council that is willing to act now.

“We could delay this for a few years,” said Tennant. “We could also put this thing off for a generation, but the problem with that is I don’t want to go to my son in 25 years and say ‘Look son, guess what you get to deal with.'”

Tennant said he believes it is paramount that we take care of our water and that as a thought leader in the state, Fayetteville is the perfect city to take the lead on streamside protection in Arkansas.

“It is my hope that other communities will enact some version of this ordinance,” said Tennant, “but it is also my belief that none of them will ever do that unless Fayetteville does it first.”

The ordinance passed by a 7 to 1 vote. Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Ferrell cast the only ‘no’ vote.

Prohibited Activities

  • Grading, dredging, dumping, filling, or similar construction activities
  • Landfills, junkyards, salvage yards
  • Clearing of non-invasive woody vegetation
  • Storage of hazardous materials or chemicals unless within waterproof containers and within a structure
  • Parking lots
  • Buildings and accessory structures with a building footprint larger than 150 square feet
  • Parking or storage of motor vehicles
  • Septic systems and/or lateral lines
  • In-ground swimming pools
  • Animal feedlots or kennels
  • Housing, grazing or other maintenance of livestock
  • Land application of biosolids

» View a fact sheet with pros and cons on streamside protection ordinances