LIVE UPDATES: City Council recap: June 16, 2015

On the agenda

  • Rezoning 16 acres along Huntsville Road.
  • Changes to the city’s rules on naming park facilities and donor recognition signs.
  • A civil rights protection ordinance prohibiting discrimination against LGBT residents and visitors.
  • Hiring a Realtor to sell two houses adjacent to Gulley Park.
  • An amendment to the city’s master street plan, removing a bridge connection over Clabber Creek.

» Download the agenda (PDF)

A meeting of the Fayetteville City Council begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 16, 2015 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, John La Tour, Alan Long
Absent: None

Reports & Presentations

1. Nominating Committee ReportAlderman Mark Kinion
Pass 8-0*

Notes: The following individuals were appointed:
Historic District Commission: Jerry Hogan, Christine Myres, Will Watson
Animal Services Advisory Board: Alyson Low, Nicole Ferguson
Construction Board of Adjustments and Appeals: Allison Quinlan, Joe Terminella
Environmental Action Committee: Josh Crittenden
Fayetteville Arts Council: Nathan Morton, Donna Smith, Sean Morrisey
Telecommunications Board: Khandice Baldwin, Aubrey Shephard, Allie Taylor
Town and Gown Advisory Committee: Alex Femister
Walton Arts Center Council, Inc.: Bill Waite


Consent items are typically approved in a single, all-inclusive vote.

1. Approval of the June 2, 2015 City Council meeting minutes.
Pass 8-0

2. Bid #15-32 Peterbilt of Fort Smith (PDF): A resolution to award Bid #15-32 and authorize the purchase of two (2) Peterbilt 348 trucks with Labrie rear loaders from Peterbilt of Fort Smith in the total amount of $369,180.00 for use by the Recycling and Trash Collection Division.
Pass 8-0

3. Bid #15-33 T&T Green, LLC (PDF): A resolution to award Bid #15-33 and authorize a contract with T&T Green, LLC of Fayetteville, Arkansas for the replacement of insulation at the City Recycling Center in the amount of $38,000.00.
Pass 8-0

4. Bid #15-34 Leigh Earthworks, LLC (PDF): A resolution to award Bid #15-34 and authorize a contract with Leigh Earthworks, LLC of Winslow, Arkansas for the Fayetteville Senior Activity and Wellness Center parking lot expansion project in the amount of $35,063.00, and to approve a project contingency in the amount of $3,506.00.
Pass 8-0

Public Hearing

1. Jerome Lopez & Elizabeth Young and the Randall J. Wright Trust Condemnation and Possession (PDF): A resolution to authorize the City Attorney to seek condemnation and possession of certain lands owned by Jerome Lopez & Elizabeth Young and the Randall J. Wright Trust needed for the Highway 45 and Old Wire Road intersection improvement project.
Tabled indefinitely*

Notes: This item was resolved after it was placed on the agenda.

Unfinished Business

1. Amendment of the Master Street Plan (PDF): A resolution to amend the Master Street Plan by removing a bridge connection on Raven Lane over Clabber Creek south of Crystal Springs Phase III.
Tabled indefinitely*

Notes: This item was requested to be tabled by the applicant.

2. RZN 15-5044 (4065 E. Huntsville Rd./The Plaza) (PDF): An ordinance rezoning that property described in rezoning petition RZN 15-5044, for approximately 16.02 acres, located at 4065 E. Huntsville Road from R-PZD 08-3071, Residential Planned Zoning District Bridgedale Plaza to RSF-7, Residential Single-Family, 7 units per acre, NS, Neighborhood Services, and CS, Community Services.
Left on the second reading

3. Donor Recognition Signs / Naming Park Facilities (PDF): An ordinance to amend Exhibit A, Donor Recognition Signs, and Exhibit B, Naming Park Facilities which are attached and a part of § 97.088 (B)(2)(b) and § 97.088 (D) of the Fayetteville Code.
Pass 8-0

New Business

1. Amend 34.27 Sale of Municipally Owned Real Property (PDF): An ordinance to amend 34.27 Sale of Municipally Owned Real Property to authorize the use of a Realtor for the sale of the two houses at Gulley Park.
Pass 8-0

2. RZN 15-5053 (West of 4195 W. Persimmon St./McBride) (PDF): An ordinance rezoning that property described in rezoning petition RZN 15-5053, for approximately 2.16 acres, located west of 4195 W. Persimmon Street from RSF-4, Residential Single Family, 4 units per acre to R-O, Residential-Office.
Pass 8-0

3. Place Holder: Maple Street & Lafayette Street Bridge Rehab (PDF): A resolution to award a contract in the amount of $x,xxx,xxx.xx to contractor, inc. for the construction of the Maple Street & Lafayette Street bridge rehab, approve a project contingency of $xxx,xxx.xx (5%), and approve a budget adjustment.
Tabled 8-0 until July 7

4. Uniform Civil Rights Protection (agenda / text): An ordinance to ensure uniform nondiscrimination protections within the City of Fayetteville for groups already protected to varying degrees throughout state law.
Pass 6-2

Notes: City Attorney Kit Williams is reading the ordinance.

Alderwoman Adella Gray, who is a sponsor of the ordinance, is making statements similar to her comments at a news conference announcing the proposal earlier this month.

Alderman John La Tour has presented a set of 14 amendments (read PDF here) he’d like the council to consider. He is reading each amendment and asking if any alderman will second his motions.

There was no support for any of Alderman La Tour’s proposed amendments.

The council is now taking public comment.

Danielle Weatherby, an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas and one of the people who helped draft the new ordinance, was the first to speak.

“I’m proud of what we created and I’m confident in the final product,” said Weatherby.

One resident said she has had trouble finding a job because she is transgender. Another transgender woman said she can’t go to the store for groceries without feeling like a “sideshow attraction.” She said people whisper and stare. “I have to live with that with or without this ordinance,” she said. “But stares and whispers can lead to violence.”

The first resident to speak against the ordinance said the street he lives on has pot holes and water line issues that need attention. He said the city should be addressing the repair of infrastructure problems instead of spending money on a special election.

The pastor at Grace Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Wedington Drive said he believes the ordinance will be used to deliberately target Christians who believe that homosexuality is wrong.

One woman, who is a local teacher and therapist, applauded the City Council for taking this issue up again. She said laws that protect LGBT residents help change how people view those groups, which will lead to a more inclusive society. “This is a tremendous shift in our culture and our world,” she said.

Several residents who spoke against the ordinance said it discriminates against them because the proposal violates their freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, or freedom of speech.

Another person, who was against the original civil rights ordinance, said he now supports the new proposal. He said the previous law was not clear enough in its religious exemptions, but he’s pleased with the new ordinance language that includes specific exemptions for churches, religious schools and daycare facilities, and religious organizations of any kind.

Two women who spoke said they were worried the ordinance would open the door for sexual predators by allowing men to enter women’s restrooms or dressing rooms to gain access to children. Another resident countered their argument and said laws already exist that prohibit people from entering the wrong bathroom for an unlawful purpose.

One man named Nathan said it’s not easy being a gay man in Arkansas, but knowing there is a community of accepting people in Fayetteville has made life easier. He said passing an official law would not only discourage discrimination, but would also send a message to other people around the state who are looking for a safe place to reside.

Several people said another special election would be a waste of time and money, and that the people made their choice when repealing the original ordinance. Resident Justin Fletcher said such a narrow margin of support for repeal of the original ordinance (the law was repealed by a vote of 7,523 to 7,040) shows there is room for further discussion of the issue. “A few hundred votes is certainly not a mandate,” said Fletcher.

Fayetteville residents were allowed to speak first. During that portion of the meeting, 25 residents spoke in favor of the ordinance, and 16 residents spoke against the proposal. The floor is now open for people who do not live in Fayetteville.

One man from Little Flock said he was surprised to hear that a position for a faith leader wasn’t reserved on the proposed Civil Rights Commission. As proposed, the commission would consist of seven members: two representatives of the business community; two owners or managers of rental property; one representative with experience in human resources or employment law; and two citizens at large, at least one of whom identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

Two people who live in neighboring cities but own companies in Fayetteville, said the ordinance will make it harder to do business here because it could open the door for people who want to abuse the new law by making false claims of discrimination. To counter that argument, a woman who is a CEO of a San Francisco-based company, and who is currently in town doing business in Fayetteville, said the ordinance will only strengthen the local business economy. She referenced statistics, similar to those in a study by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which have 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.

Public comment ended at 9:14 p.m. Of those who spoke as non-residents of Fayetteville, seven people spoke in favor of the ordinance and four people spoke against.

Alderman John La Tour was the first council member to speak after public comment was closed. He echoed the sentiments of the first resident to speak against the ordinance, and said City Council discussions should be limited to basic infrastructure problems, not talking about civil rights issues.

Alderwoman Sarah Marsh was next to speak, and she immediately motioned to suspend the rules and take the ordinance to the second reading. The motion passed 7-1 with only Alderman John La Tour voting against.

City Attorney Kit Williams told aldermen he expects the ordinance to be challenged by a lawsuit if it’s passed by the council.

A recently passed state law, called the Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act (Act 37), bans cities and counties from enacting or enforcing “an ordinance, resolution, rule or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.”

Williams, however, said he doesn’t believe the new ordinance conflicts with state law. He referenced an argument used by Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter when Little Rock was considering a civil rights ordinance in April. Carpenter cited portions of Title 6, Chapter 18 of Arkansas Code, which prohibit bullying in public schools on the basis of several classes, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Because those protected classes already exist, Carpenter opined, a municipality would not be in violation of Act 37 by adopting nondiscrimination policies based on those classes.

Williams said he hasn’t yet drafted his own legal analysis, but said Carpenter’s arguments would also apply to the proposed new law in Fayetteville.

“It won’t be a slam dunk, but…I’m fully prepared to defend this,” said Williams.

Alderman Mark Kinion was next to speak, and he motioned to suspend the rules and take the ordinance to the third and final reading. The vote was 5-3 with aldermen La Tour, Tennant, and Schoppmeyer voting against. Suspending the rules requires six affirmative votes, and Mayor Lioneld Jordan exercised his right to cast a vote, which was enough to pass the motion.

Kinion said he motioned for a final reading tonight because of the extensive amount of time that has already been spent debating the original ordinance.

“Let’s take it to the public again and see if the revisions answered the concerns of the business community and of those who opposed the original proposal,” said Kinion.

Alderman Justin Tennant said his issues with the first ordinance have been addressed and he will support most of the new ordinance language. However, he said he would be happy to schedule an Ordinance Review Committee meeting to consider further changes as requested by Alderman La Tour if other members of the committee are interested.

Alderman Matthew Petty said he’s willing to further review the issue, but only if there is reason to believe that Alderman La Tour would support the ordinance with his proposed amendments. La Tour said he couldn’t commit to the idea that his amendments would help sway his vote.

Alderman Tennant said he likes the ordinance language but doesn’t want to spend the money to hold another special election. He suggested tabling the issue, holding an Ordinance Review Committee meeting, and then approving the ordinance outright in a few weeks.

“At least I could look the citizens in the eye and say I didn’t spend another $37,000 of your money,” said Tennant.

Alderwoman Marsh said she talked to many voters who felt misled at the polls during the vote to repeal the original ordinance.

“One of the advantages of sending it to the people again is that we can be clear and transparent in the language on the ballot,” said Marsh.

Alderman Petty said in an ideal world, civil rights shouldn’t be voted on, but said out of respect for the fact that petitioners worked hard to repeal the original law, the new proposal should go back to the polls instead of being approved outright by the City Council.

Mayor Jordan said he was in strong support of the original civil rights ordinance and that he would again support the new proposal.

He said the Fayetteville LGBT community currently suffers from the fact that they can be fired or evicted simply for being themselves.

“I think that’s wrong and I think that needs to be addressed,” said Jordan.

The ordinance passed 6-2 with aldermen La Tour and Schoppmeyer voting against.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:58 p.m.