It’s been a number of months since I’ve written a report on the council meetings. With my work schedule, and summer vacation time with family, these reports weren’t on the top of my to-do list. Additionally, the council has a had a fairly light agenda through the summer months, so there hasn’t been a lot to report on. Let me recap a few things that have taken place over the last few months.
The All-Inclusive Playground is under construction! The city held a groundbreaking several weeks ago for our newest city park and the construction team has made rapid progress. I’d encourage you to drive by the site (located next to Maumelle Charter and the library) and check out the progress. This is going to be a wonderful addition to our parks system and will allow kids to run back and forth between the playground and the splash pad. The playground should be completed in the Fall.
The city hosted another groundbreaking recently for the new roundabout that will join Country Club Parkway, Counts Massie Road, and White Oak Crossing. The contract for construction began this week and the timeline for completion will be approximately 9 months. Redstone will be the contractor on this project.
Moving to old business on the agenda from this week’s meeting, the council approved changing the name of Commercial Park Drive to Maumelle Village Drive. This is the street that runs alongside the new housing development being built behind the U-Haul storage facility on Maumelle Boulevard.
Also in old business, the council accepted streets and drainage for Cypress Bend at Maumelle Crossing which is a new development being built along White Oak Crossing.
Finally in new business, the council accepted an annexation request from a landowner that wanted to bring their parcel of property into Maumelle. This property is largely floodplain but bringing it into the city will protect this land from hunting as well as protect the timber from being harvested. The parcel of land also has a few hundred feet of road frontage on Short Marche Road, so this small section of roadway will also be accepted into the city.
Moving to new business, the council heard a proposal from Council Member Michael Tierney to increase business registration fees by 400%. His proposal includes the following fee changes:
Home-Based Business - $100 ($25 currently)
Commercial, retail, or professional business - $200 ($50 currently)
Industrial or warehouse business - $400 ($100 currently)
The proposal would also increase solicitor permits in the city. The new fees for a permit would be:
For any corporation, partnership, association, or entity which is not a natural person - $2,000 (currently $500)
For natural person – $200 (currently $50)
A similar proposal was put forward by Mr. Tierney last year that would have increased the fees by 200% but that was not approved. I didn’t hear much support for this proposal that increases fees by 400% and personally, I don’t believe this is a move the city needs to make. Most residents that work from home or have a side business selling products (cosmetics, athletic-wear, etc.) likely don’t realize they’re supposed to register their business with the city. For those that do register, a $25 fee isn’t too much to pay. I suspect the proposed fee of $100 for home-based businesses will drive most folks away from even registering with the city.
I requested a breakdown of businesses that have registered so we can better understand this rate increase and what revenue that would bring into the city. In the context of our entire city budget, these increased fees would not provide much added revenue and I’d prefer to leave business fees alone. More to come on this in the coming weeks. I’d certainly welcome your feedback on the proposed fee changes.
In other new business, the council heard the first reading of an ordinance that would improve the notification procedures for planning and permit applications. This ordinance would create a consistent set of notification requirements for properties within a certain distance of a proposed development. Additionally, the planning director may increase the size of the notification area if he feels that a larger area should be notified about potential development. One additional item is that a developer would notify adjacent property owners and hold a community meeting to explain the project prior to the plan being submitted to the city for review by the Planning Commission. Overall, these changes are designed to increase public awareness about potential property development.
Finally in new business, the council approved two resolutions. The first resolution approved the retirement and sale of Canine Fox who is nearing the end of his service life with the city. Due to the retirement of Fox’s handler, it’s in the best financial interest of the city to retire this canine a year early rather than spend additional dollars training a new handler for Fox given the short timespan in which Fox could continue to serve the city.
The second resolution was the approval of $15,000 to be used for legal services by outside counsel. This is a line-item in the budget that we never know how much we might need during the year. Due to the city needing outside representation for a Civil Service Commission hearing, the council approved the additional funds.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns, Chad. 501-529-1336, email@example.com
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