June and July Council Meetings – Fitness Center updates and Board of Zoning Appeals

City Council typically moves to an lighter meeting schedule during the height of summer going down to one meeting a month.  There tends to be less administrative and legislative work that happens around this time, however with the development work at the mall Council decided to keep the regular meets – though the agendas have been light.

I thought this would be a good chance to provide an update on the possible Community Center relocation as well as an update on the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Fitness Center Update

In the June 15th meeting the City extended the time frame in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to the end of September (from the end of June).  As a reminder the MoU outlines the current understanding and intent of a possible relocation of the current community center to a fitness center at the new development.

Ordinance Description Source: City of Springdale “https://www.springdale.org/uploads/AGENDA%202022-06-15.pdf”

The only change in this update was to the expected ‘decision’ date – which was the end of July – now the end of September.  The ordinance cites the need to do additional analysis and engage the public before a decision can be made.   In the discussion it became clear that elected officials have very different expectations of what the public engagement should be going forward.  I was personally very shocked that the Administration viewed the past public engagement sessions as just a ‘pep rally’…

Source: City of Springdale “https://www.springdale.org/uploads/MINUTES%202022-06-15.pdf”

It was especially surprising because there was such good progress – credited directly to feedback from the first session – that updated the proposed design such as a dedicated child watch area and family game room.  I felt the Administration’s comment was very dismissive of public involvement.

Despite the Administration’s desire for no more public engagement sessions (outside of a final Council meeting in the fall) Administration went on to hold a presentation to the Maple Knoll Community a couple weeks later and share some important updates on the expected costs which had not been made public prior.  The following is a very short segment of the hour plus presentation where Mayor Webster starts by repeating the often stated claim that the costs for the new facility will be “zero” and that someone would have to have “rocks in their head” not to take them up on this move…

In the span of the 33 second clip below the cost of “zero” changes to “not totally free” that the expected costs would be in the neighborhood of $10,000,000 in debt payments – (and that does not include any of the costs Springdale would have to equip the facility (more than $1,000,000) as well as additional staffing and maintenance costs over and above what we have been running at.



There is an important note that needs to be said and very clear – questioning the details of a proposed fitness center move does not mean I am against the redevelopment.  Asking clarifying questions and getting into the details ensures the best results for the City.  It is better to fully understand the proposal before committing to such a significant move.   Frankly, to just blindly agree to a zero ten million dollar+ deal is the responsible thing to do.

This a big project and changes will happen over the design phase.  I am still collecting information on the proposal and I still have many questions… I believe that all the costs should be weighed against the benefits before making a move – and as information can be made public I will continue to do that.

In the meanwhile if you have questions or feedback on the developments please continue to share them with me or any of the elected officials you are comfortable speaking with.

Your Opinions Matter!

 

Board of Zoning Appeals

One standing committee I serve on is the Board of Zoning Appeals (also called “BzA”). This committee – made up of 5 residents and 2 Council members – hears requests for exceptions to zoning code as well as administrative appeals if City Administration cites a resident for a violation.  Basically – if there are special circumstances where a  property owner is unable or unwilling to comply with the current zoning code when they make updates to their property they can request relief.

There was some interesting discussion at the June 15th meeting about the relationship between Planning Commission and BzA.  To help with coordination between these groups there is a representative that sits on both committees.

Source: City of Springdale “https://www.springdale.org/planning-commission.aspx”

One of Planning Commissions roles is to define special zoning districts that don’t fit into the standard Zoning Districts (like residential – high density, or commercial) called Planned Unit Development (PUD).  These PUDs pull from various zoning codes and set up specific areas around the City and say what is permitted and what is not.  The re-development at the former Tri-County Mall  is an example of a PUD.

Where there is more interaction is when a business has gone through Planning (that focused on development plans that outline the exterior look and feel of a business) and then a part of that business build may need an exception to the code.

For example – a business has a building that is approved by Planning for look and feel for the location but there is an aspect of the building that does not complies with current code.  The business is able to proceed and get the approval but any aspects that were included that do not follow the strict application of building code still need to be approved by BzA (to assess special circumstances and similar) – for example not enough parking on the site for that type of business or slightly larger than standard sized sign due to a nearby hill that would otherwise completely block the view of a ‘standard’ sized sign.

Why does this matter – well it can be confusing at times navigating the processes.  If you are thinking about making changes to your home or start or change a business it is best to reach out to the building department or your council representative and we can help you navigate the process or resolve any challenges!

 


What do you think?  Let your elected officials know!

email and phone numbers of all your City Council members are online – https://www.springdale.org/member-profiles.aspx

and

City Administration as well –
https://www.springdale.org/mayor-and-clerk-of-council.aspx


Related Links

ICRC Meeting Recording Link (6/1), Link (6/15), Link (7/6), Link (7/20)
Written Minutes Link (6/1), Link (6/15), Link (6/29), Link (7/6)
Agenda Link (6/1), Link (6/15), Link (6/29), Link (7/6), Link (7/20)

 

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