Council names Meyer to Ward 3 position

Friday, November 30, 2018

Harry Meyer is starting his term on the Eureka Springs City Council a little early.

On Monday night, the council voted to appoint Meyer to the Ward 3, Position 2 seat after the resignation of alderwoman Kristi Kendrick. Alderwoman Melissa Greene suggested appointing Meyer to the open position, saying he’d be serving on the council in a month anyway. Meyer won the seat over Eric Knowles in the general election Nov. 6.

The council agreed to appoint him, and Greene moved to swear him in immediately. The council reconvened with Meyer at the table, moving on to discuss potential changes to the food truck ordinance. Food truck owner Bill Reed spoke at the beginning of the meeting and asked the council to amend the ordinance.

Reed said he won the food truck lottery two years ago and has been operating the Soup Shack on Highway 62 since then. The food truck is adjacent to a shop his wife owns, Reed said. He said he and his wife have been cleaning up the property over the years.

“Now, it’s a nice-looking business location,” Reed said. “I believe my wife’s operation and the Soup Shack are indicative of the development I do and definitely are assets to the city of Eureka Springs. I respectfully request you to consider my request.”

Reed suggested eliminating the annual lottery to allow any food truck currently in operation to continue operating and to treat food trucks like any other business in town. Greene said she’d like to consider the request.

“We have someone … who’s really put some decent work into something and is providing a service,” Greene said. “I haven’t heard any complaints he’s taking business from anything. I would like to discuss coming up with a solution for this gentleman.”

Alderman Terry McClung said he doesn’t support changing the ordinance.

“A deal’s a deal. It was a lottery,” McClung said. “Everybody knew what it was. That’s the way it was set up, and you play by the rules. I don’t like the idea of making an ordinance and going and changing it for somebody that comes along just because you don’t like the way the ordinance suits him.”

He continued, “That’s not the way you do it. You can’t write ordinances for every person who owns a business. I really believe his case — being on the property like it is — that he has some grounds to have an established business, because it is owner-operated.”

McClung said he’d like to see if Reed could quality for a business license for his business. Reed owns the property the truck sits on, McClung said, and it would be difficult to move from one place to another.

“He’s got it in there where it would be difficult to pull that thing out,” McClung said. “If the building inspector will allow a shed to be used for a business location on Judah Street, I can’t see why this food truck couldn’t be allowed to operate as a standalone business, because that’s what it is.”

Alderwoman Mickey Schneider suggested adding a clause to the ordinance saying property owners have the first option when it comes to running a food truck.

“I find it very difficult to take an owner’s property and say, ‘You may own it, but … if you want a food truck, you’ve got to go somewhere else,’ ” Schneider said. “That just doesn’t make sense to me. We just need to add a clause that says the owner has the first option of food truck utilization.”

Alderman Tom Buford said he liked McClung’s idea, and Mayor Butch Berry said there could be some issues with that.

“Having a permanent building, I think you’re supposed to have the requirement of having restrooms,” Berry said. “I’m willing to say what Mr. Buford said: Let the building inspector see what he comes up with.”

“I’m fine with that,” McClung said.

McClung moved to defer Reed to the building inspector to see if he could get a business license, and the council agreed to do so.

Also at the meeting, the council considered changes to the animal code. Greene said she’s been working with the animal control officer and police chief to figure out requirements for inclement weather. When it’s too cold or too hot outside, Greene said, animals need to be in a controlled environment. She passed around proposed changes to the code, and attorney Tim Weaver said the changes weren’t specific enough.

“If a court was to be called upon to apply these — the more specific they are, the more likely the court is to apply them,” Weaver said.

Alderman Bob Thomas said it’s important to specify how hot or how cold it needs to be before an animal is brought into a controlled environment.

“When you say extreme cold, what’s extreme to you might not be extreme to me,” Thomas said.

Greene said she would do more research on the temperatures and bring the proposed changes back to the council. Also at the meeting, the council approved a resolution setting a public hearing to vacate a property and heard from Berry about a proposed ordinance regarding the collection of expenditures for property clean-up. Berry asked the council to read the proposed ordinance, which will be discussed at the next meeting.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, at The Auditorium.

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