This week’s council meeting was relatively brief with quick action taken on several ordinances that were up for a vote.
The first item of old business was the final reading of an ordinance that will change the annual animal registration fee for pets in Maumelle. For sterilized and microchipped pets, there are no changes and the annual fee remains $5. The new rules would require a higher $75 annual fee if a pet is unsterilized. Additionally, the fine structure had not been adjusted in many years so the fees for loose pets, and animals that cause injuries were increased. Most pet owners will not see any changes to their annual registration fee of $5 as long as their pet is sterilized and is microchipped. These changes passed by a 6-2 vote of the council.
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The next item of business was an ordinance that cleaned up and clarified language regarding land use and rezoning amendments that go through our planning process. With the existing ordinance, there was some ambiguity with how it could be interpreted, so this language was further clarified to align with how the city handles these requests. This passed 6-2.
Next, the council approved a change to the city’s Master Street Plan to update the preferred route for a future street. The area in question would be from the White Oak Crossing interchange going east towards Hwy 365. This change in the street plan aligns the future road better with the area and is more suitable for a future connection with Hwy 365. This passed 6-2.
Finally in new business, the council approved another ordinance to clarify language and filing procedures for submissions to our planning department. Like the earlier ordinance we passed, this change aligns our city code with bylaws put in place by the Planning Commission. It passed 6-2.
In new business, was a request for a hearing at the Nov. 21 council meeting where we will review a proposed Property Owner Multi-purpose Improvement District. This will be for the Devoe Bend neighborhood that’s currently under development. This hearing was approved.
Also in new business, was an ordinance sponsored by Council Member Michael Tierney which would double the current business licensing fees the city collects annually.
Home-based businesses would go from $25 to $50.
Commercial, Retail and Professional businesses would go from $50 to $100.
Industrial businesses would go from $100 to $200.
Additionally, this ordinance would dedicate 50% of the business license fees to go directly to the Police/Fire Fund. Lastly, this ordinance would require the city to display a list on our city’s website home page of all businesses that are past due. Currently, annual fees are due on Jan 31 and this ordinance would require the city to post a list on February 1 of all businesses who have not registered and paid their annual fee. There was a little bit of discussion among council members of not wanting to raise taxes or fees on businesses in our city. I also had concerns about automatically dedicating half of these fees to police/fire since that would restrict the ability of the council to use city funds for other purposes in the future. One other concern I had was the image this would project to current and future businesses by having a “Past-due Business Registration” list prominently displayed on our city’s home page. The timing of when this list would be published on Feb 1 would also be complicated by the fact that registration fees aren’t due until the end of January. This ordinance will be read two more times and voted on Dec 5th.
Next in new business was a budget resolution to approve an additional $25,000 in this year’s street budget so that our Public Works Department can continue making needed repairs to Champs Boulevard in our Industrial Park. This road has seen a lot of construction traffic this year which has caused parts of the roadway to fail. It’s important for the city to keep this vital roadway in good shape to support our city’s partners in the Industrial Park. This request was approved 6-2.
Finally in new business, Mayor Caleb Norris presented a request to use $100,000 in funds we received from the American Rescue Plan to design and engineer pickleball courts in Maumelle. A few weeks ago, the city held an event for the public to come out and learn about this popular and growing sport. This event was very well attended and exceeded the numbers we expected to participate. In a survey afterwards, 64 residents left positive comments about Pickleball and were supportive of moving forward. The council approved the funds for design and engineering by a 6-2 vote.
That was the extent of our council agenda this week. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Chad, 501-529-1336, email@example.com