A rezoning that would have allowed a 144-unit apartment complex in a single-family area was denied by the Conway City Council on Tuesday night.
The rezoning was unanimously denied by the Conway Planning Commission last month after residents of the several neighborhoods nearby voiced concerns about traffic and property values.
Terry Burruss, an architect who joined MR Capital Partners, LLC in seeking the rezoning, told the council that there was a need for more apartments in Conway and the properties at 1500/1600 Bill Lucy Drive, about a block north of E. Siebenmorgen Road and just east of Trison Lane, was a good location.
The property’s listing agent, Gelenda Mudgett, also told the council that there was demand for apartments in town east of I-40, and the demand would grow when the Baptist Health Systems hospital starts hiring.
More than a dozen residents of the area were at the meeting, and again voiced concerns about traffic in an area with nearby schools on a road, Bill Lucy Drive, without curbs or sidewalks and that wasn’t built or planned to handle anything other than local neighborhood traffic.
The council was unanimous in agreeing that the location wasn’t right for a "suburban" sized apartment complex, but councilman Wes Pruitt said he wanted to clarify that he disagreed with one resident’s argument that apartment dwellers don’t "invest" in the community just because they don’t own the real estate they live on.
Mayor Tab Townsell said that the rezoning and proposed apartment complex was contrary to modern Euclidian rezoning practices (so named after a 1926 U.S. Supreme Court case involving the city of Euclid, Ohio, and not the Greek philosopher) and City Hall’s preference for mixed-use "island" multifamily developments inside of traditionally single-family areas.
Councilman David Grimes questioned the wisdom of the rezoning appeals process in requests that are unanimously denied by the planning commission, saying that it results in a waste of time when there is little chance of the council overruling a unanimous decision by the commission — a thing he said he couldn’t remember happening before.
Planning Director Bryan Patrick told the council that he would research state law on the subject.
In other business, the council voted to proceed with new Airport Director Josh Zylks recommendation that MM Satterfield Aviation Fuel be the preferred choice for an aviation fuel vendor at the new airport. Eastern Aviation Fuels/Shell Aviation and AvFuel Corp. are the second and third choices, respectively. Zylks said that Satterfield’s response to the citys’ request for proposal (RFP) was by far the best.
The council also authorized the issuance of bonds to raise money for the city’s wastewater treatment infrastructure, and approved the following:
• Closing a portion of a 15 foot utility easement located on Lot 10 of the Trinity Washington Subdivision Phase II (Northwest corner of Old Morrilton Highway at Donaghey Avenue). Kum & Go, the gas station company that plans to open a store there, has requested the easement’s closure.
• A resolution requesting the Faulkner County Tax Collector place a lien on property located at 130 Oaklawn Drive for incurred expenses by the City. The property owner owes the city about $360 for grass/trash cleanup.
• Approving the reimbursable agreement with the FAA for the installation of the Remote Transmitter/Receiver at the new Conway Municipal Airport (moving the one at the existing airport to the new one).
• Bids for the 2014 Sidewalk Projects (Tyler Street & Laurel Park) for the Street Department. City Engineer Finley Vinson said that these would serve the park and the Faulkner County Library
• A counteroffer for the right of way purchase at South Donaghey and Favre Lane for the roundabout project. The city and the property owners appear to have reached an agreement at $55,450 — up from the city’s initial offer of $48,000. City Attorney Mike Murphy wrote in a letter to Townsell that proceeding with an eminent domain action would probably end up costing the difference between the city’s offer and the $55,450 counteroffer in expert witness fees.
• Authorizing the City Attorney’s office to file suit on delinquent invoices for the Conway Parks & Recreation Department. A woman allegedly owes about $2,000 for an event at the expo center and a man allegedly owes $500 for an event that was scheduled at the expo center and then cancelled.
• An ordinance to approve donation of computer hardware to the Van Buren County District Court from the Information Technology Department. This is mostly equipment that was rendered obsolete with the end of support for the Windows XP operating system and that, since it’s five years old, hasn’t attracted any attention from buyers at auction, IT Director Lloyd Hartzell told the council.
• And an agreement with the Conway Housing Authority for one community policing officer from the Conway Police Department.