ES council considers ordinance to collect expenditures for cleanup

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Eureka Springs City Council is looking to change the way the city handles private property repairs and cleanup.

On Monday night, the council considered a proposed ordinance allowing the city to collect money for cleaning up private property areas that need it. The proposed ordinance says the city may file a lien against the property to do the work, requiring a public hearing where the cost of the work would be determined.

The cost would include a 10 percent penalty for collection in accordance with the Arkansas Municipal Code, the proposed ordinance says, and would be placed on the tax books as delinquent taxes and collected accordingly. Mayor Butch Berry said the proposed ordinance would help the city when property owners aren’t taking care of obviously deteriorating structures.

“We had one instance where … one of the buildings in the historic district was needing a roof badly,” Berry said. “It was out-of-state landlords in a trust. We couldn’t get them to do anything. It was a historic, significant structure.”

Alderman Tom Buford asked if the proposed ordinance would cover sidewalk repairs, and Berry said it would. Buford suggested adding the sidewalk ordinance into the proposed ordinance to cover all the bases. City attorney Tim Weaver said he could add a section saying the proposed ordinance is applicable to all city code.

“I like what the attorney said about tying it to the entire code,” alderman Terry McClung said. “I would rather it be tied in and cover the code as an aggregate.”

“I agree,” Buford said. “It ought to be all-encompassing.”

McClung said he was ready to give the proposed ordinance a first reading, saying Weaver could add that section for the second reading. Alderwoman Mickey Schneider objected to that.

“I make a motion to defer it, so we can do all the proper readings in order,” Schneider said.

When Schneider’s motion died for lack of a second, McClung moved to approve the proposed ordinance on its first reading. Everyone voted yes besides Schneider.

In other business, the council approved five resolutions allowing the city to apply for grants: a resolution for fair housing, a resolution for an anti-displacement plan, a resolution prohibiting excessive force, a resolution designating a grant administrator and a resolution for an Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program grant.

The council approved one more resolution accepting property behind the transit facility. Berry said the property was given to the city by citizens who are leaving town.

“It’s not going to cost the city anything?” alderman Harry Meyer asked.

“No, outside of not getting any more property tax,” Berry said.

Also at the meeting, Berry updated the council on the status of The Soup Shack on Highway 62. The Soup Shack will be transitioning from a food truck to a commercial business, Berry said, on several conditions. A letter from building inspector Bobby Ray outlines these conditions, saying the structure must be permanent, the kitchen must conform to current fire and construction code, the structure must connect to the city’s water/sewer and other utilities in a permanent manner, grease trap protection must be installed and the owner must have approval from the Arkansas Department of Health for a commercial kitchen.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at The Auditorium.

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