By Chad Gardner
At Monday night’s Maumelle City Council meeting, a rezoning request for a parcel of land located on the southwest corner of Maumelle Blvd and Commercial Park Drive was approved.
This parcel is immediately to the north of the U-Haul Storage facility, the former Kroger grocery store, and the land’s been zoned commercial for many years, but there has been little to no interest in this area for commercial development. As Maumelle has grown, our primary commerce areas have shifted to other parts of Maumelle. As such, Gene Pfiefer, the landowner, has not been able to do anything with this property from a commercial perspective and there’s plans to develop a senior-living community with smaller homes and condos, so the request for residential zoning was approved.
Additionally, Pfeifer owns another tract of land across Commercial Park Drive and is requesting that these be rezoned from C-3 Commercial to C-2. This is a “lighter” type of commercial that will be more suitable in the area with the newly approved residential zoning across the street. This additional zoning request will be voted on at the meeting on May 4.
In other old business, a second reading was held on an item to expand the allowance of private streets in Maumelle. Currently, we allow private streets but we have a narrow definition that states the road must be a cul de sac or short loop street. This ordinance would strike that narrow language and would allow for longer private streets as long as they meet city development code.
A second reading was held on an ordinance regulating short-term rentals of less than 30 days, Examples would be airbnb, VRBO and Expedia, among others.
I’ve previously shared concerns I have with this ordinance since it sets a maximum of eight people that can stay in a rental no matter how large the home is or how many bedrooms it has. When I have used Airbnb, my family has traveled with another family and we have exceeded eight people in our rental even though the home had plenty of room for all the adults and kids. I think this maximum of eight people is too low and would unnecessarily prevent multiple families from staying together if they are traveling to Maumelle for events in the area. This ordinance also requires short-term rentals to register with the city as a business and pay a registration fee for a city permit. I’ll have more thoughts on this later since I’m still learning what works best for other cities and how we could apply that to Maumelle. As part of that learning process, on Tuesday I attended a Little Rock Planning Commission workshop as their commissioners and city staff discussed their own short-term rental ordinance they plan to introduce later this year. They have put a lot of thought into the process including how they will regulate and monitor these rentals going forward. It is clear they have done a lot of work on the front end to develop a plan for how the city will monitor and regulate these rentals on an on-going basis. I’m not yet aware of what city department or staff in Maumelle will regulate these rentals but plan to learn more in the next two weeks to see if we have even developed a plan. -- Chad Gardner
In new business, an ordinance was introduced that would change the initiative and referendum procedure in Maumelle. Current code allows residents to put initiatives or referendums on the ballot, but we have conflicting pieces of code that give different rules for how it is to be done. Additionally, portions of current code conflict with state law meaning our current rules are invalid and state law would have to be followed. State law requires a signed petition with a minimum of 15 percent of the votes cast in the last mayoral election. For example, in the 2018 mayoral there were 7,722 votes cast. This means state law would require 1,158 signatures, or 15 percent from Maumelle voters to put an initiative or referendum on the ballot. This proposed ordinance will clear up the inconsistencies that our current code has with state law.
An ordinance was introduced that will remove city enforcement of private Bills of Assurance. Most of our newer subdivisions are a part of a Property Owners Association and those neighborhoods typically regulate home construction, aesthetics and design, among other things.
Arkansas code was amended in 2019 and no longer allows municipalities to regulate those restrictions. POA’s will still have the authority to enforce Bills of Assurance on properties but this removes enforcement by the city.
Congratulations to Kim White, volunteer coordinator for Maumelle’s Center on the Lake for being named employee of the month! She is passionate about her job and is always looking for people that want to get involved and help at Center on the Lake.
The Council reviewed the city’s financials through March of 2021. Revenues coming into the city are ahead of where we were at this point last year. Expenses are also lower at this point in 2021 than we were in March of 2020. This has resulted in the city doing well on our budget three months into the year with revenues exceeding expenditures by $125,000
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