Stearns Street extension moves forward

(City of Fayetteville)

FAYETTEVILLE — A project to connect the two dead ends on both sides of a street on the north city of town can now move forward.

The City Council on Tuesday voted 6-2 to approve a proposal to bridge the roughly 250-foot gap on East Stearns Street, creating an east-west route from Old Missouri Road to Vantage Drive. It was the third meeting in a row that the council discussed the project.

The eastern segment that connects to Old Missouri Road was built in the late 1980s as part of the Brookhollow residential subdivision. The western section that connects to Vantage Drive was constructed in 2018 as part of a commercial subdivision.

The gap includes undeveloped city right-of-way that a neighboring subdivision’s property owners’s association has used for maintenance purposes. The associated also built a shed on the city property.

When the commercial subdivision was built, the city collected nearly $21,000 in fees from developers to put toward the connection. That money must be spent by 2025 or it will need to be refunded, so city staff last summer said it was time to make a decision about the connection.

The city held a public meeting in July and surveyed residents to gauge support for the $482,000 project.

The Planning Commission in September voted to recommend approval of the connection, and the council’s Transportation Committee in November voted in favor of the project.

Residents who opposed the project were mostly from the neighboring Bellafont Gardens subdivision. Some said they thought the connection would make an unsafe traffic situation, others said they didn’t think it would help alleviate any traffic issues, and a few said it was too costly of a project.

During an initial discussion in January, Councilmember Mike Wiederkehr said he was in support of the connection, which has been on the city’s master street plan for about 30 years. Wiederkehr said as the city grows, Fayetteville needs as many east-west connections as it can afford to build.

Councilmember Scott Berna on Tuesday asked if the area would benefit from the connection when it comes to public safety. Fire Chief Brad Hardin said the road was about three houses short of being too large for only one access point in each direction from a fire safety standpoint.

City of Fayetteville

Councilmember Sarah Bunch said the proposal presents an opportunity to build a small connection that could alleviate a lot of traffic in the future once the surrounding properties are developed. Any future development in the area will likely be of a higher density than the current neighborhoods, she said, which makes the decision even more important at this point.

Before the vote, Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he has always been a proponent of making more street connections, and with the potential for upcoming developments on the horizon, the area will need more connectivity. He said if the vote was a tie, he would support the proposal.

Berna, Bunch, Bob Stafford, Sarah Moore, Mike Weiderkehr and Holly Hertzberg voted in favor of the connection, while Jones and Turk voted against.

Turk said she thinks the money could be better spent elsewhere. Jones did not say why he voted against the project.