Fayetteville City Council recap: May 7, 2024

(File photo)

On the agenda:

  • An appeal of a denied rezoning request on Stone Street.
  • Applying for a grant to hire school resource officers.
  • Rezoning 3.87 acres on 10th Street.
  • Rezoning 0.51 acres on Huntsville Road.
  • Rezoning 0.37 acres on Skyline Drive.
  • Rezoning 12.13 acres on 54th Avenue.
  • Rezoning 0.60 acres on West Avenue.
  • Rezoning 90.65 acres across five expired PZDs around town.
  • An appeal of a denied permit for a housing complex parking lot.
  • A resolution to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

» Download the agenda (PDF)


Meeting info

A meeting of the Fayetteville City Council began at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2024 inside City Hall in Room 219. The meeting is also available on Zoom and will be broadcast live on the city’s YouTube channel.

Listed below are all the items up for approval and links to PDF documents with detailed information on each item of business.


Meeting duration

This meeting lasted 6 hours and 38 minutes, and was adjourned at 12:08 a.m.


Roll call

Present: Bob Stafford, D’Andre Jones, Sarah Moore, Mike Wiederkehr, Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Scott Berna, Sarah Bunch, Teresa Turk, Holly Hertzberg
Absent: None

» View current attendance records


Mayor’ s Announcements, Proclamations and Recognitions

1. Environmental Stewardship Awards Announcement (see our story)


City Council Presentations, Reports & Discussions

1. Monthly Financial Report


Consent

Consent items are approved in a single, all-inclusive vote unless an item is pulled by a council member at the beginning of the meeting.

1. Approval of the April 2, 2024 City Council meeting minutes
Pass 8-0

2. Approval of the April 16, 2024 City Council meeting minutes
Pass 8-0

3. Benchmark Construction of NWA, Inc. – Bid award (Details): A resolution to award Bid #24-28 and authorize a contract with Benchmark Construction of NWA, Inc. in the amount of $989,779.09 for storm drainage installation along the Mission Boulevard Trail. This resolution also approves a project contingency in the amount of $50,000.00 and a budget adjustment for the 2019 Trail Improvement Bond Project.
Pass 8-0

4. E-Scooter Program – Revenue recognition (Details): A resolution to approve a budget adjustment in the amount of $30,000.00 recognizing revenue received from the E-Scooter Program.
Pass 8-0

5. Crossland Heavy Contractors, Inc. – Change Order 2 (Details): A resolution to approve Change Order No. 2 to RFQ #22-07 contract with Crossland Heavy Contractors, Inc. for the Midtown Corridor Project Phase 2 in the amount of $191,461.43, and approve a budget adjustment – 2019 Transportation Bond Project.
Pass 8-0

6. DC Sparks Construction, LLC. – Change Order #2 (Details): A resolution to approve Change Order No. 2 to the Fleet Shop Expansion contract with DC Sparks Construction, LLC. in the amount of $21,362.56 to reconcile additions to the contract.
Pass 8-0

7. Hawkins-Weir Engineers, Inc. – Amendment No. 3 (Details): A resolution to approve Amendment No. 3 to the professional engineering services agreement with Hawkins-Weir Engineers, Inc. in an amount not to exceed $646,930.00 for professional services associated with utility relocations along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at the I-49/HWY-62 interchange.
Pass 8-0

8. Olsson, Inc. – Service agreement (Details): A resolution to approve an engineering services agreement in an amount not to exceed $68,000.00 between the City of Fayetteville and Olsson, Inc. for design of removal and replacement of coating systems and updating safety systems for the Baxter Water Storage Tank.
Pass 8-0

9. D.J. Shubeck Company – Purchase agreement (Details): A resolution to award Bid #24-30 and authorize a contract with D.J. Shubeck Company in the amount of $56,340.36 plus any applicable taxes and freight charges for the purchase of a biosolids sludge pump for use at the West Side Water Resource Recovery Facility.
Pass 8-0

10. Garney Companies, Inc. – Change Order No. 1 (Details): A resolution to approve Change Order No. 1 with Garney Companies, Inc. in the amount of $75,450,081.00 for construction manager at-risk services for the West Corridor Water Transmission Line Project.
Pass 8-0


Unfinished Business

1. Appeal: Rezoning-2024-0002 – 740 W. Stone St./Apex Property Ventures, LLC, 522 (Details)

An ordinance to rezone the property described in Rezoning Petition RZN-2024-0002 for approximately 0.24 acres located at 740 West Stone Street in Ward 2 from RI-U, Residential Intermediate-Urban to DG, Downtown General.
Pass 5-3

Background:
The property is located near downtown, just northeast of Fayetteville High School between Hill and Duncan avenues on the north side of Stone Street. It is currently undeveloped. The request is to rezone the property from RI-U, Residential Intermediate – Urban to DG, Downtown General. The applicant has included a Bill of Assurance to limit development to strictly residential uses and to limit the overall building heights to three stories as opposed to five.

The Planning Commission recommends denial of the request (vote was 3-6). Commissioners who voted against were concerned that the need for a Bill of Assurance signaled a lack of compatibility of the new zone, and that the existing zoning district already allows the right to build many units. Commissioners in favor noted that while DG is an intense zoning district, they found that limiting the story height and the uses made the request compatible.

City staff also recommended denial and found that a more appropriate route than providing a Bill of Assurance (which runs with the land, but can be difficult to enforce) would be to work within the existing zoning district regulations

Location:

April 16 Discussion:
The applicant requested more time to consider their options, and asked that the item be left on the first reading. The discussion will continue on May 7.

May 7 Discussion:
The following Bill of Assurance was submitted since the last meeting:

  • Limits property to buildings of no more than five units and no more than three stories.
  • Limits property to residential uses: Single-family, 2 family, 3- & 4-family, multi-family, accessory dwellings, cluster housing, and short-tern rentals

City staff said part of the reason they’re opposed to the request is because there is a way to build the project without rezoning the property at all if a conditional use permit is sought and approved.

Stafford said he likes the project and will support the request because it could provide more of the “missing middle” type of housing in the area.

One resident spoke in favor of the request and said anything that can be done to add more housing in the “missing middle” classification is worth supporting.

Wiederkehr said he is in favor of the project, but he’s weighing that against city staff’s comments about the project not necessarily needing a rezoning. Turk agreed and said approving this appeal could set a precedent which leads to more requests or appeals for projects that don’t necessarily require an upzone to move forward.

Decision:
The council voted 5-3 to approve the appeal. Wiederkehr, Turk and Hertzberg voted against.


Public Hearing

1. Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity – Affordable Taxi Company (Details)

A resolution to conduct a public hearing for the issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to Affordable Taxi Company to operate as a taxi company in the City of Fayetteville.
Pass 8-0

Background:
Affordable Taxi Company of Pope County is requesting a public hearing for the issuance of a certificate required to operate as a taxi company in the city. There is currently one taxicab company, Fayetteville Taxi, and one limousine company, Hotel Executive Transportation, permitted to operate in town.

Discussion:
Stafford said it’s nice to have options for a ride besides ride share apps.

There was no public comment.

Decision:
The council voted 8-0 to approve the resolution.


New Business

1. Jack Tyler Engineering, Inc. – Service agreement (Details)

A resolution to accept a quote from Jack Tyler Engineering, Inc. in the amount of $64,572.61 plus applicable taxes and freight charges for the repair of a pump used at the Hamestring Sewer Lift Station.
Tabled indefinitely 8-0

Background:
The Hamestring Sewer Lift Station has seven pumps, all of which are original to the lift station when it was constructed. City staff said one of the pumps has been repaired by a few different vendors over the past four years, but is now in need of a complete rebuild. This item would allow for that process to begin.

Decision:
Staff asked for the item to be tabled indefinitely. The council approved the tabling 8-0.


2. Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program – Grant application (Details)

A resolution to approve an application for a 2024 COPS Hiring Program Matching Grant in the amount of $250,000.00 to fund two School Resource Officers for a period of four years with the $496,100.00 matching requirement split proportionally between the City and Fayetteville Public Schools.
Pass 7-1

Background:
The council in 2022 approved a resolution of intent to add two new school resource officer positions each budget year until every school in the district has an officer on site each school day.

This item would allow the city to apply for a grant to help fund two officers for a period of four years at a total of $746,100. The grant would fund $250,000 while the remainder would be split proportionately between the school district ($339,710) and the city ($156,390).

Discussion:
Police Chief Mike Reynolds said the city currently has 11 school resource officer, so this would fund the 12th and 13th SROs.

Five people spoke in favor of the resolution during public comment, including members of a group called Safer Fayetteville and Fayetteville Superintendent John Mulford.

Four people spoke against. One person who spoke against said adding more police presence in schools can make some students feel less safe, and could exacerbate racial disparities.

Moore said national statistics that cite racial disparities among SROs are the main reason she’s been opposed to police in schools since she first joined the council, and she’ll continue to vote against requests to add more.

Jones said as a Black man, he trusts the police department and the officers who work in the schools. He said he’s never heard from any Black constituents who oppose SROs, so he’ll continue to support officers in schools.

Berna said he believes SROs can only help to keep students safer, so decisions like these are easy for him to make. Hertzberg agreed and said she’ll continue to support requests for more SROs.

Stafford agreed, and said he won’t be one to tell his constituents, who are in strong support of SROs, that they shouldn’t have an officer in their children’s schools.

Wiederkehr said the council already voted to support adding SROs, so debating the policy every time a grant opportunity arises isn’t the best use of the council’s time.

Bunch said the work SROs perform should be left to trained police officers, not security guards or other employees of the district. She said her constituents are in strong support of more SROs, so she’ll vote in favor.

Jordan said he’s long been a supporter of SROs, and he won’t stop advocating for the plan to have an officer in every school.

Decision:
The council voted 7-1 to approve the resolution. Moore voted against.


3. Vacation-2024-0006 – 151 W. Dickson St./151 Dickson Development, 484 (Details)

An ordinance to approve VAC-24-006 for property located at 151 West Dickson Street in Ward 2 to vacate a 273 square feet portion of access easement.
Left on the second reading

Background:
The property is just southeast of the intersection of Church Avenue and Dickson Street. It includes a semicircular access easement along Dickson Street that was dedicated to the city in 2001 by a previous owner for a public bench, but staff said the bench has been removed. The applicant would like the city to vacate that access easement so the property can be redeveloped (see our story about the planned development).

Location:

Discussion:
There was no public comment.

The council agreed to leave the item on the second reading.


4. Rezoning-2024-0009 – E. 10th St. and S. Waxflower Ave./Willow Bend Lots 23, 26 & 31, 563 (Details)

An ordinance to rezone the property described in Rezoning Petition RZN 2024-009 for approximately 3.87 acres located at East 10th Street and South Waxflower Avenue in Ward 1 from RSF-18, Residential Single-Family, eighteen units per acre, and NC, Neighborhood Conservation, to RI-U, Residential Intermediate-Urban.
Pass 8-0

Background:
The property contains three lots of the Willow Bend subdivision. In September 2020, a conditional use permit was approved to allow cluster housing on those lots, but the permit expired last year before the lots were developed. A large-scale development for cluster housing on two of the lots was granted in October 2021, though that approval has also expired. A small-site improvement plan for cluster housing on one of the lots was submitted in 2021, but was never approved. The new request is to rezone the property to RI-U, Residential Intermediate-Urban.

Both city planners and the Planning Commission recommend approval.

Location:

Discussion:
There was no public comment.

Decision:
The council advanced the ordinance to the third reading, and voted 8-0 to approve it.


5. Rezoning-2024-0012 – 2002 and 2008 E. Huntsville Rd./Taproot Investment Partners, 565 (Details)

An ordinance to rezone the property described in Rezoning Petition RZN 2024-012 for approximately 0.51 acres located at 2002 and 2008 East Huntsville Road in Ward 1 from RSF-4, Residential Single-Family, four units per acre, to RI-U, Residential Intermediate-Urban, and NS-G, Neighborhood Services-General.
Pass 8-0

Background:
The property is just east of the intersection of Happy Hollow Road and Huntsville Road, and consists of two parcels – one that is undeveloped and one that contains two single-family homes. The request is to rezone one of the parcels to NS-G, Neighborhood Services – General and the other to RI-U, Residential Intermediate – Urban.

Both city planners and the Planning Commission recommend approval.

Location:

Discussion:
Turk said she’s concerned that the requested district allows structures of up to 3 stories tall, which might not be compatible with the neighborhood.

Stafford said there’s a nearby district that allows up to 5 stories, so this request seems reasonable.

One person spoke in favor of the request.

Decision:
The council advanced the ordinance to the third reading, and voted 8-0 to approve it.


6. Rezoning-2024-0014 – 141 W. Skyline Dr/Mount Sequoyah Center, 486 (Details)

An ordinance to rezone the property described in Rezoning Petition RZN 2024-014 for approximately 0.37 acres located at 141 West Skyline Drive in Ward 1 from RSF-4, Residential Single-Family, four units per acre, to P-1, Institutional.
Pass 8-0

Background:
The property is on Skyline Drive atop Mount Sequoyah where the city overlook and Mount Sequoyah Center’s cross are located. The request is to rezone the property to P-1, Institutional to conform with the other areas of the center’s property on the mountain.

Both city planners and the Planning Commission recommend approval.

Location:

Discussion:
There was no public comment.

Decision:
The council advanced the ordinance to the third reading, and voted 8-0 to approve it.


7. Planned Zoning District-2024-0002 – West of N. 54th Ave / Coleson Brook, LLC, 397 (Details)

An ordinance to approve a Residential Planned Zoning District entitled PZD-2024-002 for approximately 12.13 acres located west of North 54th Avenue in Ward 4.
Pass 8-0

Background:
The property is about 400 feet north of the intersection of 54th Avenue and Wedington Drive, and was annexed into the city limits in 2021. It is currently undeveloped and is not part of any overlay or master planning areas. The applicant requests to rezone the property to a planned zoning district with two planning areas:

  • Planning Area #1 – 7.99 acres: The intention of this planning area is to provide single-family homes at a maximum density of 10 units per acre. The proposal includes alley-loaded single-family home lots which would front either 54th Avenue or the proposed greenspace within Planning Area 2. The allowable uses are similar to but more limited than those allowed in other single-family zoning districts such as RSF-4 or NC, Neighborhood Conservation.
  • Planning Area #2 – 1.32 acres: This planning area is intended for a combination of open space, tree preservation, and stormwater facilities. The area in question currently has some existing tree canopy and abuts an existing residential neighborhood to the west. Any proposed parkland dedication would be required to be evaluated by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and a full evaluation of its suitability for city acquisition would take place during development process. Compliance with the tree preservation ordinance and stormwater design would be fully evaluated with development plan submittal. The permitted uses are restricted to Use Unit 1: City-wide Uses permitted by right.

Both city planners and the Planning Commission recommend approval.

Location:
 

Discussion:
There was no public comment.

Decision:
The council advanced the ordinance to the third reading, and voted 8-0 to approve it.


8. Planned Zoning District-2024-0003 – 215 N. West Ave/Park Hotel, 484 (Details)

An ordinance to rezone the property described in Rezoning Petition RZN 2024-03 for approximately 0.60 acres located at 215 North West Avenue in Ward 2 from MSC, Main Street Center to a Planned Zoning District.
Pass 8-0

Background:
The property is on the south side of the West Avenue Civic Plaza, which is currently under construction. It is currently zoned MSC, Main Street Center, and while recently owned by the city, was sold to the current property owner for the development of a hotel. It includes a remnant of a parking lot and a portion of the Razorback Greenway. The request is to rezone the property to a planned zoning district with one planning
area:

  • Planning Area #1 – 0.60 acres: The intention of this planning area is to allow for the construction of a 120-room hotel and mixed-use development at the southern end of the South Civic Plaza that is currently under construction. The PZD proposes to allow primarily commercial uses, with a maximum building height of 8 stories. The applicant has indicated that the building height will be at the maximum 8 stories only in areas where a basement will exist. Multi-family residential uses are also permitted in this PZD with no stated density maximum. Fire access, valet drop-off, and a shared use trail will be developed with the overall proposal, but will be included on a separate property which is not under zoning consideration with this proposal.

Both city planners and the Planning Commission recommend approval.

Location:

Discussion:
There was no public comment.

Decision:
The council advanced the ordinance to the third reading, and voted 8-0 to approve it.


9. Rezoning-2024-0011 – Various Expired PZD Locations/Expired PZDs, PP Varies (Details)

An ordinance to rezone the properties described in Rezoning Petition RZN 2024-0011 for approximately 90.65 acres located in Wards 1, 2, and 4 from Planned Zoning Districts to various standard zoning districts.
Left on the first reading

Background:
The properties include five expired planned zoning districts around town that are a mix of fully undeveloped properties, partially developed neighborhoods and/or commercial blocks with sections of undeveloped lots, or are part of a larger PZD that has been almost entirely rezoned. The PZDs predate many of the city’s newer regulations like the landscape and tree preservation codes, so staff are proposing to rezone them to various districts as outlined below:

Both city planners and the Planning Commission recommend approval.

Location:

Discussion:
The council agreed to leave the item on the first reading to allow more time to consider the request.


10. Appeal: Conditional Use Permit-2024-0011 – 155 N. Powerhouse Ave/Trinitas Ventures, 483 (Details)

A resolution to grant the appeal of council members Scott Berna, D’Andre Jones, and Bob Stafford and approve Conditional Use Permit CUP 2024-011 to allow the installation of an offsite parking lot at 155 North Powerhouse Avenue and University Avenue to serve the applicant’s proposed apartment building on Center Street.
Pass 5-3

Background:
The property is on University Avenue between Dickson Street and Center Street, and is the former site of the Powerhouse Seafood restaurant that permanently closed in June 2023. The applicant proposes to lease the property, demolish the restaurant building, and build a parking lot to help serve a planned student apartment complex on Center Street. The six-story complex would include its own 245-space parking lot, but with nearly 700 beds planned, city code requires at least another 194 spaces be made available for the building’s tenants. The restaurant property is 200 feet from the site of the planned complex. City code requires off-site lots to be within 600 feet of the buildings they serve. It’s the second location that the developers have proposed for the complex. The Planning Commission in December denied a permit for an off-site lot about a mile away in south Fayetteville. The commission also denied this most current permit by a split vote of 4-4 (see our story about it).

City planners recommend approval of the permit.

Location:

Discussion:
One person spoke during public comment and was in opposition to the appeal, but said the city should change its parking space requirements so that the development can be built as is without the need for an offsite lot.

Stafford said he’ll support the appeal. He said some have lamented the potential loss of the former restaurant building, but said there likely won’t be too many people who are interested in investing the amount of money it would take to bring the former restaurant property into code compliance when new fire laws are implemented in 2027.

Wiederkehr said he’s hearing concerns from people who believe that developers shouldn’t build any more bedrooms than they can provide onsite parking for.

Turk said the city has just begun a project to remove a parking lot directly adjacent to this property, and wondered why the council should support this project to build a new one in the same area. Moore agreed, and said she won’t support the appeal.

Hertzberg said she’s in support, partially because it would be an upgrade for the property, which currently serves as a makeshift parking lot.

Berna said with all the power lines and utility easements on and above the property, along with the steep slopes that are present, it would be difficult to develop the land.

“The highest and best use of this property is probably a parking lot,” said Berna, who added he’ll support the appeal.

Jones said the council just declared a housing crisis, and this project will support more housing, so he’ll vote in favor of the appeal.

Decision:
The council voted 5-3 to support the appeal. Wiederkehr, Turk and Moore voted against.


11. Call for a Permanent Ceasefire in Gaza – Resolution (Details)

A resolution to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and for the prevention of further loss of human life in the Middle East.

Background:
Councilmember Moore has recommended the council approve a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Discussion:
City Attorney Kit Williams said he’s been told there are nearly 100 people waiting outside City Hall to speak, and if all of those people use their entire allotted time of three minutes, the meeting will likely last until 3 a.m. He said out of respect for the people at the back of the line, the council might consider reducing public comment to two minutes per person. The council voted 6-2 to reduce the speaking time (Jones and Moore against).

As of midnight over 50 people had spoken, with only two in opposition of the resolution. Many of those in favor spoke of the atrocities they’ve read about or seen footage of concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and said by passing the resolution, Fayetteville could send a message that the city is on the right side of history.

Jones said Fayetteville has a history of confronting topics that other cities in Arkansas typically don’t address, and that passing the resolution would be consistent with the city’s progressive reputation.

Stafford said in Fayetteville, there’s a universal desire to see an end to the war and its atrocities, but he believes his elected role focuses on local issues like housing, homelessness, and community support, rather than worldwide affairs.

“As much as I’d like to think that I can have a voice on the international stage, I can’t,” Stafford said. “It’s not the duty of any of us up here.”

Stafford said he’d abstain from voting on the resolution as a statement of his inability to directly affect world peace, but also his reluctance to outright oppose it.

Jones said he understands Stafford’s comments about staying true to elected responsibilities, but argued for a broader interpretation of those duties that he believes includes advocating for world peace and compassion.

“I know this is very difficult,” Jones said. “But at the end of the day, I don’t think that it’s going to hurt me, not one bit sending a statement that I care about someone else who lives in another community.”

Turk said before she was elected, she made a promise to ensure that all voices, especially minority ones, are heard and represented. She said despite her initial concerns that Fayetteville taking a stand might provoke political repercussions from state leaders, the testimonies and overwhelming support from the community during public comment made her change her stance.

“Tonight, there’s been at least 53 people that have supported this resolution and only a couple of voices against it,” Turk said. “It’s my job to listen to what you all have to say.”

Berna echoed Stafford’s remarks, and said despite the strong support for the resolution from attendees at the meeting, his responsibility is to represent all 90,000 citizens of Fayetteville, not just those present. He said in his outreach to the community, including those with differing political views, the consensus was that the resolution was irrelevant to Fayetteville’s direct interests and could potentially create local division.

“It’s not that I don’t want peace in the Middle East, because I do,” said Berna. “But this does potentially have a negative effect on our community and that’s what I have to stand on.”

Wiederkehr said he was concerned about Fayetteville being targeted by external influences, and that he received phone calls and emails from people outside Arkansas before the resolution was even proposed. He said he was wary of the city becoming a mere item on an agenda for non-local entities, and that passing the resolution could be seen as a symbolic victory for outside movements instead of a decision that was based on local, organic involvement.

“So while I respect you, I hope that you would have some reason to at least give me some benefit of the doubt that I don’t want us to be a litany of one off issues,” Wiederkehr told the audience.

Moore said the initiative was indeed brought forward by local residents, but admitted that they sought outside expertise to ensure its appropriateness and legality.

“I do apologize that there was a lack of understanding in the way that some of these things were communicated,” said Moore. “But the individuals that were contacting us, from what I understand, are connected to the Northwest Arkansas individuals that were writing the resolution.”

Wiederkehr said during public comment, some people cited concerns about the use of Fayetteville tax revenue in supporting the war, but said that was a misunderstanding. He said the $1.4 million mentioned by attendees does not come from the city’s budget but rather from federal income taxes paid by residents.

“I don’t want anyone to misconstrue that the city of Fayetteville’s actual funding is being utilized for (international conflicts),” said Wiederkehr.

Decision:
The council voted 3-1 with four members abstaining, so the resolution failed. Moore, Turk and Jones voted in favor. Berna voted against. Stafford, Wiederkehr, Bunch and Hertzberg abstained.


Meeting duration

This meeting lasted 6 hours and 38 minutes, and was adjourned at 12:38 a.m.