Wiederkehr ready for transition to City Council

Mike Wiederkehr (center) speaks during his first City Council meeting on March 1.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

FAYETTEVILLE — Mike Wiederkehr looked comfortable during his first City Council meeting last Tuesday.

The March 1 agenda was unusually slim, with only two items of new business – both easement vacations. And despite the addition of two walk-on items, the meeting was adjourned before 8 p.m., which has been a somewhat rare occurrence in the past few years.

“It was a wonderful baptism opportunity, with low complexity and no drama,” Wiederkehr said.

Wiederkehr was recently elected to fill the empty Ward 2, Position 2 seat that was left vacant by Matthew Petty, who resigned in October. Wiederkehr will serve the remainder of that term through Dec. 31, 2024.

Things will be back to normal next week when the council meets to discuss eight rezoning requests, along with four other items of new business.

The transition should be smooth for Wiederkehr, who spent nearly a year making recommendations to the council as a member of the Planning Commission.

The commission meets twice per month to discuss zoning changes, annexations, and conditional uses. The group also makes recommendations concerning amendments or changes to the city’s comprehensive planning elements, and gives final approval to subdivision plans and large-scale developments.

Judge Kim Smith administered the oath of office to Mike Wiederkehr, who stood alongside his wife Lee Anne inside the council chambers in downtown Fayetteville on Feb. 22.

Fayetteville Government Channel

Wiederkehr said while the information processing is similar for council members and planning commissioners when considering rezoning requests, the factors differ slightly.

“Both bodies consider compatibility with our general plan and transportation plan when making rezoning decisions, as well as considering compatibility with surrounding uses, and potential impacts to traffic, public safety, and the environment,” Wiederkehr said.

But the Planning Commission, he said, is designed to take a more focused or pure approach to land use decisions.

“The council’s processing is slightly broader and includes the additional pragmatic concerns of potential impacts upon the efficient delivery of city services, impacts upon and adequacy of public infrastructure, and even the reasonableness of opposition if it exists,” he said. “Both bodies desire and appreciate good civic design, and uses which support and enhance neighborhoods by virtue of their quality.”

Wiederkehr said he’s excited for the transition, and has planned a meet-and-greet along with fellow Ward 2 Council Member Mark Kinion for later this month.

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, March 21 at Khana Indian Grill, 2101 N. College Ave.

Wiederkehr said the event is not a Ward 2 meeting, but rather an introduction opportunity for residents to meet their representatives in person. No city business will be presented, he said.

Wiederkehr said he’s looking forward to working with the current council, along the city’s planning staff and administration.

“Every time I have an opportunity to interact with other council members I come away impressed by their insights, broad knowledge, and sincere desire to see our community thrive,” he said. “We are fortunate to have some remarkably talented staff leading our municipal organization and our mayor is a jewel.”