ES Council told to enforce city code on condos

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

EUREKA SPRINGS -- Garland County District Judge Ralph C. Ohm, also an attorney with the Arkansas Public Risk Management Association, spoke Monday night to members of the City Council and spent the rest of one and a half hours answering questions about the proposed Crescent Hotel/Condo project.

Ohm's basic advice, after having reviewed a 3-1/2-inch-thick sheaf of documents provided him by Mayor Dani Wilson, was "if you have a code, you have to live by it."

The attorney declined to comment directly on the project, saying he had not reviewed drawings or a description of the hotel's project, and had focused primarily on the legal aspects of the projects.

He said his review of the city's zoning codes indicated that although it differed from other cities' ordinances, Section 14 of the code does say that land uses in a Planned Unit Development (PUD) must comply with the underlying zoning district, which are R-1, C-1 and C-3. If they do not, then the underlying districts' zoning must be changed. He also noted that the code requires the PUD plans to be submitted to the City Council by the Planning Commission, which has not occurred.

Alderman Eric Scheunemann told Ohm that it was the Board of Zoning Adjustment who had voted last fall to approve the PUD, not the Planning Commission as required by code. Based on Scheunemann's claims, as well as those of former Mayor Kathy Harrison, Ohm said "it appears there have been mistakes' in the approval process. The City Council must assure that the code is complied with."

While Ohm left the meeting at 7:30 for his trip home to Hot Springs, two other items related to the proposed project were on the agenda: Ordinance 2034 to vacate an unnamed street which bisects the proposed project, and a proposed resolution presented at the previous meeting by Alderman Rae Hahn supposedly written to halt the project until such time as the council is satisfied that all zoning requirements have been met.

Ordinance 2034 was tabled under a motion by Harrison, seconded by Hahn, which received a unanimous vote.

The proposed resolution, vehemently opposed by Alderman Joyce Zoeller, was not read, after City Attorney Tim Weaver said it was not needed. Instead, a motion by Harrison that criteria and conditions for the project imposed by both the Historic District Commission and Planning Commission plus plans for the project be submitted to the City Council. The motion was approved unanimously, and after a date for a special meeting could not be agreed upon, the submittal was scheduled for the March 12 regular meeting agenda.

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