Override of mayor's first veto fails on split vote of council

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

EUREKA SPRINGS -- Mayor Dani Wilson's veto of a City Council resolution asking the Arkansas Legislature to pull or not approve HB1586 held up Monday night, with the vote to override being three for and three against.

House Bill 1586, introduced by Rep. Brian King, contained proposed changes to the enabling legislation creating the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission (CAPC) that had been requested by that commission.

Reading from a prepared statement of the reasons for her veto, Mayor Wilson gave several reasons, most regarding dispelling misinformation about the proposed changes. The statement concluded with the following:

"I believe that it is irresponsible for us to desert our State Representative Brian King at the last minute when he has done his job and gone to bat for us. We will lose our credibility if this gets pulled down, and never again get any help (from the state) financially or otherwise. Our reputation is fragile on the state level from years of irresponsible behavior. I refuse to participate in a repeat of the same process."

During the 50 minute discussion leading up to the vote, Wilson crossed verbal swords with former mayor Kathy Harrison and also had her fist disagreement with the new council concerning whether or not to allow public input to the discussion, primarily from Beau Satori and Karen Lindblad. Wilson, who had moved public comments up to the front of the agenda in accordance with aldermens' wishes, said the time for public comment on the subject had passed.

Condo project still in limbo

The agenda item listed as "discussion of Crescent Hotel condominium project" was perhaps shorter than anticipated because no one representing the hotel attended the meeting. Instead, a press conference was held last week and a revised, or compromise plan was given to reporters representing the local media. The council asked, at their meeting two weeks ago, that representatives of the proposed project submit plans to thecouncil for review, since the original presentation was to the Historic District Commission and Planning Commission.

Harrison characterized the non-appearance at Monday night's meeting a "slap in the face" of the governing body.

Alderman Eric Scheunemann, who was a member of the Planning Commission which reviewed the proposal last fall, said that changes in the proposed project since it was supposedly approved last fall required the applicant to submit the revised plans to the Commission for review.

Harrison said her conversation with Glenna Booth, who advises the HDC, revealed that the Historic District Commission's approval applied only to the conceptual design of the plan, but that approval by that body was required on the final building features and other aspects of the plan. Further, the proposed re-location of dwellings within the project also dictates a re-submission of site engineering plans.

A motion by Alderman Patrick Brammer, seconded by Scheunemann, asked that the discussion be tabled until the next meeting, and that the mayor contact the developer to advise the Council whether changes had been made to the project since they had received approval from the commissions. The vote on the motion was unanimous.

In other action, the Council:

* Heard a report from Jeff Jeans, chairman of the Mayor's Economic Advisory Group, that they are actively working on recommendations to make the City Auditorium less of a financial burden on the city.

* Heard public input from a number of residents concerning the Crescent Park project, lack of quorum on the Planning Commission, revision of legislation concerning the CAPC. About half of the residents who signed up to address the Council decided not to speak.

* Passed on third reading Ordinance 2036, which revised fees and added penalties to grease interceptors in the city.

* Passed on third reading Ordinance 2040, which provides for the reimbursement of transportation costs by prisoners arrested outside the city and transported back for court appearances.

* Passed on third reading Ordinance 2037, which clarifies enforcement of the sign ordinance and redefines parameters for some signs and banners.

* Passed on first reading Ordinance 2049, which allows Alderman Charlotte Buchan?an permission to conduct business with the city or its commissions. City Attorney Tim Weaver said an ordinance which was not specific to a situation would probably not stand up in court, although no case law apparently exists in this matter. Buchanan, owner of GlamoRama Productions, has contracted with the CAPC in the past to produce festivals. To deprive her of this ability, since she was elected to the City Council, was felt to be unfair. The ordinance passed with four votes for, Buchanan abstaining and Zoeller voting "present."

* Passed on first reading Ordinance 2048, which modifies parking and no parking zones along Spring Street, mainly south of the Carnegie Library, to better accommodate trolley and passenger car traffic.

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