Eureka planning wants clear rules

Friday, September 30, 2011

EUREKA SPRINGS -- Commissioner Mickey Schneider told the Planning Commission at Tuesday night's meeting she feels they "need to sit down and hash out a way to protect our downtown and its historicness but allow for growth," and that Eurekans must learn to compromise.

Commissioner Ed Leswig then suggested a discussion on development standards for the city, saying that planning should go through all city ordinances and pull out what is allowable and what is prohibited for each of the residential and commercial zones. He wants one document which answers the question, "If you want to build in Eureka Springs, then this is what you need to do."

Leswig pointed out that things get lost in the ordinances over time, and the city, which needs to establish some standards, might not know what is missing in the code without a comprehensive document like the one he is suggesting.

Commissioner James Morris agreed that they need to "sort through all the laws so we can move forward," but he feels the city is limited because it does not have much money. "We have tourism but nothing else," he said. He suggested trying to create a committee with representatives of the different city commissions as well as interested citizens who want to find a way to compromise on development issues.

Chair Beverly Blankenship answered, "So we're back to a master plan." She said that Leswig had added it to the next agenda, and they will work on it one step at a time.

Zoning map update

Blankenship reported that Glenna Booth, city economic development coordinator, took all the documents needed to update the city zoning map to McClellan, the company that will do the work. Blankenship said she saw a plat map of Eureka Springs, not the one being updated, which more accurately shows which properties are in which zones. She feels it would be more useful than the one being updated.

Leswig said they should ask McClellan to put a freeze on their work for the time being, ask them if they have a plat map of Eureka Springs, and also try to find out who made the other map.

Blankenship said she has heard from Realtors who said they would buy a copy of the plat map if up-to-date copies were available.

Morris agreed that more research into finding the maker of the plat map is valuable, but he warned against waiting too long.

Commissioners eventually decided to ask McClellan to pause until planning does more research on the plat map.

Other business

* Parks Director Bruce Levine presented to planning a grant proposal through which parks might get $100,000 for facility improvements at Lake Leatherwood Park. The grant is through the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Commission and is intended to enhance wildlife viewing and tourism. Blankenship asked if some of the money could be used to improve the road into the park, and Levine said he would find out. Leswig moved to send a letter to council indicating "warm support" from planning for the grant proposal. The motion passed unanimously.

* Leswig asked commissioners to return to him their reviews of the administrative cleanup of the city sign ordinance. He and Alderman Ken Pownall have gone through city code in an attempt to provide an accurate and complete document related to signage.

Blankenship asked commissioners to help Leswig complete the task by carefully comparing the document he prepared with Ordinances 2027 and 2037, which were never inserted into the code, to make sure that all components are included in the document. Once this is completed, the document will be passed to council.

* Blankenship told planning about an opportunity to apply for a grant from the American Institute of Architects Center for Communities by Design 2012 Sustainable Design Assessment Team Program. If successful, the grant would provide money for professionals to come to Eureka Springs and provide a valuable audit of city services and infrastructure that Blankenship said would be "a precursor for a master plan." There would be an expense, which she would ask the city to pay, but the value, according to Leswig, would far outweigh the cost. He moved to proceed with applying for the grant and the motion was approved unanimously.

* The commission also voted to move the Nov. 8 meeting date to Nov. 15.

Next meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 6 p.m.

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