LIVE UPDATES: City Council recap: Aug. 19, 2014

On the agenda

  • An ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • A five-year, $113.3 million capital improvement plan.
  • Purchasing 11 acres adjacent to Gulley Park for $1.1 million.
  • Amending the city’s Master Street Plan.
  • A $9,400 contract for an art sculpture at the Marion Orton Recycling Drop Off Center.
  • A $23,980 contract for Police Department data sharing software.
  • A $26,971 contract for Media Services Department remote production equipment.
  • A $65,714 contract for city website and intranet redesign.

» Download the agenda (PDF)

A meeting of the Fayetteville City Council began at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 inside room 219 of the City Administration Building, located at 113 W. Mountain Street in Fayetteville.

Listed below are the items up for approval and links to downloadable PDFs for more information on each item of business.

Roll Call

Present: Adella Gray, Sarah Marsh, Mark Kinion, Matthew Petty, Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Justin Tennant, Martin Schoppmeyer, Rhonda Adams, Alan Long
Absent: None

City Council Meeting Presentations

1. Quarterly Financial Report, 2nd Quarter 2014 – Paul Becker, Finance Director

Consent items

1. Approval of the Aug. 5, 2014 City Council meeting minutes.
Pass 8-0

2. Evans Construction and Remodeling, LLC (898 S. Hill Avenue) (PDF): A resolution to authorize a contract with Evans Construction and Remodeling, LLC in the amount of $39,765.00 for Community Development Block Grant Rehabilitation of an eligible residence located at 898 S. Hill Avenue.
Pass 8-0

3. Justice Assistance and State Drug Crime Enforcement Grant (PDF): A resolution accepting the 2014-2015 Justice Assistance and State Drug Crime Enforcement Grant for Federal and State funding in the amounts of $73,705.16 and $111,529.83 respectively, as a portion of the funding for the 4th Judicial District Drug Task Force.
Pass 8-0

4. B & H Photo Video (PDF): A resolution to award Bid #14-44 and authorize the purchase of components for a Location Production System from B&H Photo-Video Corp. in the amount of $26,971.13 for use by the Media Services Division.
Pass 8-0

5. McClelland Consulting Engineers (Zion Road) (PDF): A resolution to authorize an amendment to the contract with McClelland Consulting Engineers, Inc. in an amount not to exceed $90,610.00 to provide for design and related services for sanitary sewer relocation and improvements along a portion of Zion Road, and to approve a Budget Adjustment.
Pass 8-0

6. John Stalling Studio (Art Sculpture at the Marion Orton Recycling Drop Off Center) (PDF): A resolution to authorize a contract with John Stalling Studio in the amount of $9,400.00 for an art sculpture to be installed at the Marion Orton Recycling Drop Off Center, and to approve a budget adjustment.
Pass 8-0

7. CivicPlus (Website Redesign) (PDF): A resolution to authorize a contract with Icon Enterprises, Inc. doing business as Civicplus in the amount of $65,714.00 plus applicable taxes for City website and intranet redesign and hosting, and to approve a project contingency in the amount of $6,571.00.
Pass 8-0

8. New World Systems (Data Sharing Software Module) (PDF): A resolution to authorize an amendment to the contract with New World Systems in the amount of $23,980.00 plus applicable sales tax for the addition of a data sharing software module to the existing Police Department records management system, and to authorize the mayor to sign memoranda of understanding with the cities of Rogers and Bentonville regarding the sharing of police records.
Pass 8-0

9. Bid #14-43 Benchmark Construction (PDF): A resolution to award Bid #14-43 and authorize the mayor to sign a contract with Benchmark Construction of NWA, Inc. in the amount of $42,879.48 for replacement of the driveway at Fire Station No. 1, and to approve a project contingency of $8,575.90.
Pass 8-0

10. Master Street Plan Amendment (PDF): A resolution amending the Master Street Plan by removing the internal collector streets that were planned in the Southpass R-PZD 08-2898 and downgrading Finger Road from a collector to a local street from the intersection of Plumerosa Road South to the Mount Kessler area, as described and depicted in the attached map.
Pass 8-0

Special new business item

1. Gulley Land Purchase (PDF): A resolution to approve the attached Offer and Acceptance Contract in which the City agrees to purchase about 11 acres of land including two houses and any outbuildings from Mary L. Dunn for the amount of One Million One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,100,000.00), to authorize Mayor Jordan to sign all necessary documents for this purchase and to approve the attached budget adjustment.
Pass 8-0

Notes: Aldermen voted 8-0 to move this item up from the end of the agenda.

The full 10.95-acre parcel was appraised for $970,000. It includes two houses that were individually appraised at $330,000. City officials plan to sell both homes and keep the remaining land as additional parkland at Gulley Park. The City will pay the appraised $970,000 value in two payments – $700,000 now and $270,000 on Feb. 1, 2016. The Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association will raise donations and pay the remaining $130,000 on Feb. 1, 2017. Officials said the group has already raised $30,000. A $700,000 Gulley Park trail and lighting renovation project that was scheduled for 2015 will be put on hold for up to five years so the money can be used to make the initial payment. Renovations at Wilson Park could also be put on hold, depending on how much the two homes sell for.

Old business items

1. Enact Chapter 119 Civil Rights Administration (PDF): An ordinance to amend the Fayetteville Code by enacting Chapter 119 Civil Rights Administration to protect the Civil Rights of Fayetteville citizens and visitors and to create the position of Civil Rights Administrator for the City of Fayetteville. This ordinance was left on the First Reading at the July 15, 2014 City Council meeting. This ordinance was amended and left on the Second Reading at the August 5, 2014 City Council meeting.
Pass 6-2

A crowd began forming inside City Hall at around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

Notes: Alderman Petty proposed an amendment to expand exemptions to include all tax exempt property or places of worship owned by a church. Petty also proposed an amendment to include language stating that nothing in the ordinance should be construed as allowing any person to enter any gender-specific place for any unlawful purpose, and to state that designating a facility as a gender-segregated space shall not be unlawful.

Alderman Tennant proposed sending the anti-discrimination decision to the public for a vote in the upcoming general election. If the Council wants to send the anti-discrimination decision to a public vote, it must first be passed tonight and then referred to the County Clerk. If the public were to initiate its own vote to overturn the ordinance, they would have until about the end of the month to submit over 4,000 signatures in order to get the item on the Nov. 4 general election. If they missed the deadline for the general election ballot, a special election would be called at a cost of about $25,000-$35,000.

The public is now speaking to the amendments.

The City Council chambers were full within moments of the City Clerk opening the doors.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

A couple of residents have said they would like a public vote. A few are against it. One person said the people already voted when they elected their aldermen. Another said putting the rights of minorities in the hands of the majority isn’t always a wise choice.

One man who spoke said he lost his job in Fayetteville because he was gay. “I don’t feel safe here,” he said. Another man said he has been afraid that potential landlords would find out he and his partner are gay and would not rent to them.

Jeremy Flanagan, a pastor at Pathway Baptist Church who spoke at the Aug. 5 meeting, maintains that protections based on gender identity will lead to men entering women’s restrooms or dressing rooms. City Attorney Kit Williams said state laws already exist that address people attempting to enter the wrong bathroom for any unlawful purpose – indecent exposure and disorderly conduct. Both are state statutes that trump any local law.

State Representative Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, spoke in favor of a public vote. “It gives the people the chance to say, ‘We are for this approach or we are not for this approach,'” he said. “There will be a clear resounding answer from the people of Fayetteville.”

With the City Council chambers at maximum capacity, residents were only allowed inside one by one as another exited the room.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

Laurent Sacharoff, a professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law, said a public vote would be a mistake. “It sounds wonderful,” he said. “But the one time in which democracy fails us is when the rights of a minority are an issue. Sacharoff said minorities face terrible odds when faced with discrimination, and the burden should be on the public to vote for discrimination.

Of the 54 Fayetteville residents who have spoken about the proposed amendments, 18 people said they would like a public vote. The other 36 residents said they are against a public vote.

Petty’s amendments passed unanimously.

Tennant’s amendment fails 2-6 (Tennant and Schoppmeyer voted in favor). The City Council will not send the anti-discrimination ordinance to a public vote.

Ward 3 Alderman Justin Tennant proposed an amendment to send the ordinance to a public vote in the Nov. 4 general election. The Council rejected Tennant’s proposal 2-6. Tennant’s fellow Ward 3 alderman, Martin Schoppmeyer, cast the other “yes” vote.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

Alderman Kinion said while it would be easy for him to “pass the buck” and send the ordinance to a public vote, he would not support Tennant’s amendment. “That’s not the kind of person I am and that’s not why I was elected to this position,” said Kinion. “What I’ve learned is that fear will win out over truth (in a public vote).”

Next up is a discussion of the ordinance as a whole, followed by a final vote.

Tonight’s meeting has so far been orderly, and folks are being very considerate. Mayor Jordan set specific rules before the discussion began that included: Fayetteville residents get to speak first; no applauding, booing or jeering; no name-calling; and no comments directed at any alderman or audience member. The Council chambers are at maximum capacity, so residents were asked to file in one by one as another leaves the room. The process has worked well, at least from what can be seen from inside the chambers.

Public comment is still going at 12:55 a.m., with residents speaking on both sides of the issue.

Some of those against the ordinance are echoing previous remarks that gender identity protection will lead to men using women’s restrooms, or women entering men’s dressing rooms.

Public comment was still going strong at 1:45 a.m. with residents continuing to line up out the door and into the hallway.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

Others said that discrimination is not a problem in Fayetteville, and that the city is already a fair-minded place.

Several gay and transgender residents who spoke recounted personal stories where they felt discriminated against in businesses around Fayetteville.

“Fayetteville is a fair-minded place, but it is those isolated incidents of oppression that concern me,” said Janice Walters.

Lowell Grisham, Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, said he frequently hears from LGBT members of his church who have been discriminated against in Fayetteville. “I’ve heard stories from people who have been beaten up, threatened or followed as they left a restroom,” said Grisham.

One transgender man who spoke said his problems go back as far as his days in elementary school when he was mocked for going into the correct bathroom because he didn’t look like the other girls. During his transition later in life, he said he began using the men’s restroom and hasn’t had a problem since then. “This ordinance wouldn’t have prevented any of that (early discrimination),” he said, “But it would let me breathe easier when I go into the bathroom where I feel most comfortable and where others feel most comfortable with me being there.”

Terry Turpin, a former practicing attorney and current COO at Fayetteville-based company Acumen Brands, said he was concerned that a disgruntled employee who was fired for a good reason might retaliate and file a complaint against his company. Turpin warned aldermen that if the ordinance is passed, it will hurt businesses in Fayetteville, and will cause other companies to think twice before moving to town.

Other residents pointed to a recently released study by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation which found that 91 percent of Fortune 500 companies have implemented policies which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 61 percent have protections in place on the basis of gender identity.

Turpin also warned aldermen that the ordinance is a violation of state law. City Attorney Kit Williams disagreed and said civil rights is not a state affair, and that aldermen have “clear authority” to enact the ordinance as written.

After public comment ended, 73 Fayetteville residents had spoken about the ordinance. 49 people were in favor of the proposal, and 24 were against it. Of the 14 non-Fayetteville residents who spoke, only one was in favor of the ordinance.

Council members are making their final comments.

The anti-discrimination ordinance has passed by a vote of 6-2. Aldermen Tennant and Schoppmeyer voted no.

2. 2015-2019 Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) (PDF): A resolution to adopt the 2015-2019 five-year Capital Improvement Plan. This resolution was tabled at the August 5, 2014 City Council meeting to the August 19, 2014 City Council meeting.
Tabled 8-0 until the first meeting in September

New business items

1. VAC 14-4780 (1414 S. Happy Hollow Road) (PDF): An ordinance approving VAC 14-4780 submitted by Blew & Associates for property located at 1414 S. Happy Hollow Road to vacate existing street right-of-way.
Left on the first reading

2. VAC 14-4777 (McConnell and Drake) (PDF): An ordinance approving VAC 14-4777 submitted by Jorgensen & Associates for property located at the northeast corner of McConnell and Drake to vacate an existing street right-of-way and portion of a utility easement.
Left on the first reading

3. VAC 14-4768 (Arlis Herriman 2622 East Golden Oaks Road) (PDF): An ordinance approving VAC 14-4768 submitted by Arlis Herriman for property located at 2622 East Golden Oaks Road to vacate a portion of an existing utility easement, a total of 275 square feet.
Pass 8-0

4. VAC 14-4776 (3535 North College Avenue) (PDF): An ordinance approving VAC 14-4776 submitted by Jorgensen & Associates for property located at 3535 North College Avenue to vacate an existing utility easement, a total of 6,300 square feet.
Pass 8-0


This meeting was adjourned at 3:45 a.m.