Council moves forward with lease on Kingshighway

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Eureka Springs City Council approved a 25-year lease at 4 Kingshighway on Monday night.

Mayor Butch Berry said the city received a request for a new lease at the property, because the property owners are selling it. City clerk Ann Armstrong said Ordinance 1457 establishes a 25-year lease at the property. Because the property is selling, Armstrong said, a new ordinance is necessary. Armstrong said she considered vacating the property but that would be a longer, more complex process.

“It became apparent that renewing the lease was the most efficient way to carry on,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said the property is located at the edge of the Freeman Addition, with a narrow bit of alley near the driveway. Armstrong showed the council a zoning map of the property.

“The piece that is vertical … it actually contains the front edge of their porch,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said the property owners would like to renew the 25-year lease, which would cost $100. Council member Terry McClung said it would take an ordinance to approve leasing or vacating the area and asked if the council could vacate the property instead.

“If there were not a water line on the property … outside of the road and to the east of the curb, vacating and following that long process of publishing notices in the paper … would be doable, except there is a utility there,” Armstrong said. “We don’t vacate with utilities.”

“Why don’t we?” McClung asked. “We have in the past.”

Armstrong said she could think of a dozen ordinances written for the Freeman Addition that vacate property.

“And then further down in the document, it will say it’s a 99-year lease, so a person who reads only the beginning of the document goes, ‘Aha, it’s vacated. This alley belongs to me,’ ” Armstrong said. “That’s how we end up with garages built over wastewater lines.”

Armstrong said title searches weren’t a big deal until recently.

“So people would think, ‘I have this document. It says vacate right here,’ ” Armstrong said. “But it says a 99-year lease. So there are dozens of lapsed leases, particularly in the Freeman Addition, so people inadvertently do things like put in permanent structures and … when that wastewater line is faulty, it’s under a garage.”

Armstrong added, “And it’s because the processes weren’t clearly defined. We don’t want to repeat behaviors that have caused problems in the past.”

Brian Richardson, who owns the property, said he initially wanted to vacate before deciding to sell the property. Now there’s a confirmed buyer, Richardson said, and a pending contract on the property.

“Because that was taking longer, we decided to do the lease process,” Richardson said.

He said he hoped the council could approve the previous ordinance establishing the lease.

“We thought that might be a quicker process,” Richardson said. “We’re just looking for the quickest, simple solution here.”

McClung moved to move forward with the 25-year lease with the fee of $100, adding a caveat that the council will begin the process of vacating the property.

“I think it would be easiest, Mr. McClung, if we could just keep it to the lease without confusing the issue about any caveats, about us getting back into vacating it, because that could end up extending any time limit,” Berry said.

McClung removed the caveat and the council voted unanimously to approve the motion.

Also at the meeting, the council agreed to meet at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25, to discuss the building projects at the Auditorium and the fire station. The council approved an ordinance amending the bed and breakfast definition on a second reading by title only and moved the budget meeting to the first meeting of the month.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 13, at the Auditorium.

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