Eureka Springs multifamily housing units may soon require licenses

Friday, November 29, 2013

EUREKA SPRINGS -- The City Council had the first reading of an ordinance that requires multifamily housing units to purchase business licenses to continue their operations.

After being given a draft ordinance by City Attorney Tim Weaver on Monday night, the City Council amended it to reflect suggested changes by Weaver and titled it Ordinance 2198. The ordinance requires owners of multifamily housing to purchase a business license for each non-adjoined property and to obtain a certificate of occupancy before a license can be issued.

"The intent of this was to bring the issue of multifamily housing up to the level of our tourist lodging and bed and breakfasts," said Alderman David Mitchell. "We are basically trying to establish that there is at least a minimal standard applied equally to those who live in multifamily housing, so that health, safety and welfare that this council is responsible for is being applied to multifamily housing."

The majority of multifamily housing operates in R-1 districts through conditional use permits, according to Planning Commission officials. To acquire a certificate of occupancy, a property owner must invite the city officials into the dwelling so that they may check and approve safety and health standards, namely fire safety. Also to be defined and used as a dwelling, there will be certain spatial requirements, such as a 150 square foot minimum and at least a seven-foot ceiling.

The ordinance has two more readings and was borrowed from other cities in Arkansas. If the ordinance passes its other readings, then all multifamily housing owners will need to apply for a business license and will be fined if they do not submit to the requirements of the ordinance.

The council also had the second reading of Ordinance 2191, which adds intimate theater to uses in C-3 zones. The ordinance was first amended to exclude the library, because due to its occasional film showings, it could have possibly been reclassified as intimate theater.

The council also approved the third and final reading to rezone 80 Mountain Street form R-1 to C-3. There will be a 30-day waiting period before it becomes law.

Also, the ordinance to adopt a land bank for the city has failed and will have to be substantially changed before it can be reintroduced to the council, Weaver said. The council also scheduled a workshop to discuss increased parking rates or special events for Dec. 9 at 5 p.m.

Mayor Morris Pate updated the council on the yellow trash bag initiate. The new trash bags with the drawstrings will be purchased after the city runs out of the ones they are using now, the mayor said.

In other business, the council:

* Approved Joe Gunnels' application for a group tour business.

* Numbered and read for the first time an ordinance to vacate the 100-foot portion of Palo Pinto Street recently reclaimed from the Parks Department. After much debate, it was decided to do more research on the Nut Street vacation before having the first reading of the ordinance.

* Approved Resolution 630, to renew the agreement with the Arts Council to continue to manage the art wall. The Arts Council is currently working on a theme for the wall for the next two years, said Diane Wilkerson of the mayor's office.

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