Maumelle: City Council report

This week’s headlines: Council approves zoning change for property along Murphy Drive; Reviews zoning and land use change for property along Hwy 365; Council rejects ordinance to ban certain breeds of dogs or those looking like certain breeds of dogs; Council approves issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds for Tractor Supply.

This week’s meeting started off with a financial update for the city from Finance Director Liz Mathis. The city continues to be in a good financial position through eight months of the year. Revenues continue to exceed our budgeted forecast for 2022 and expenses are also below budget through the end of August. I would expect these trends to continue through the remainder of the year.

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The first item of old business was a request to change the zoning and land use of a small parcel of property that’s located between Murphy Drive to the east and Commercial Park Drive to the west. The portion of the property facing Murphy will remain Industrial and the other half will move to Commercial zoning so that it can be merged into a larger piece of property to the west that’s zoned Commercial. This passed by a 5-4 vote of the council with Mayor Caleb Norris casting a deciding vote to pass the change. Note, only two council members voted “no” on this change. Two additional council members were not present for this vote which resulted in their votes being recorded as a “no.”

The second item of old business was a request to change the zoning for a parcel of land the city annexed into Maumelle last year along Hwy 365. The property owner annexed into Maumelle and was zoned R1 (single-family residences) at the suggestion of the city. Now a project has been proposed to build a mixture of single-family residences, and townhomes. This would require a different zoning. Additionally, this project would have extensive green space and trails for residents to use along with a proposed mountain bike trail in an old quarry on the property. This zoning request will be voted on at the first meeting in October.

Photo courtesy of Katie Kornreich from Maumelle's Puppy Pool Party on Sept. 10.

Under new business, was an ordinance sponsored by Council Member Steve Mosley to ban certain breeds of dogs or any dog that conformed or substantially conformed in appearance to certain breeds of dogs.

As you may recall, the council voted (5-3) in 2021 to lift Maumelle’s ban on dog breeds. Last year we spent over two months discussing and debating this issue before deciding to lift the ban on breeds. The council had little appetite to make any changes to this law at our meeting.

Mosley made a motion to suspend the rules and have all three readings on this ordinance at one meeting which would have resulted in us voting on the issue immediately. This motion failed due to no other council members supporting the motion.

Following this, I made a motion to table the motion indefinitely, meaning this ordinance can not be brought up again unless five or more council members vote to bring it back from the table. There were a few minutes of back-and-forth debate on this, but the majority opinion of the council was that there was no need to revisit this issue when it comes to banning certain dog breeds. My motion to table the ordinance passed 5-3.

I will add that there was good discussion on reviewing our city’s code as it relates to fencing of properties and enforcing our current laws relating to keeping pets confined and on a leash when out in public. We can always review our current laws and make changes where we think it would help make the community safer by holding pet owners more responsible for securing their pets.

The majority of issues we have with pets in our community are due to them not being confined properly due to improper or damaged fencing and/or residents who let their pets go off leash when out for a walk. The breed of the dog has not been shown to be a causal factor in dog bites. When I initially looked at this issue back in 2019, Labrador Retrievers were one of the top breeds that were an issue in the city. However, we’d be laughed at as a city if we decided to ban Labs since they’re so popular and great family pets. Ultimately in my mind, breed has no bearing on whether a dog might bite someone, so banning certain breeds in the name of public safety just doesn’t add up.

Next in new business was an ordinance authorizing Industrial Revenue Bonds to be issued for the Tractor Supply Distribution Center that is currently being built in Maumelle. This ordinance authorizes the company to issue up to $190 million in bonds to pay for construction of their facility here in Maumelle. We routinely pass these for other large industrial projects in our city (Kimberly-Clark being one example), so the council heard all three readings of this ordinance and it passed by a 7-1 vote of the council.

That was the extent of the council’s agenda for this week. Please let me know if you ever have any questions. Thanks, Chad 501-529-1336, chad4maumelle@gmail.com