This week’s council meeting started off with multiple ordinances to change the zoning and land use of property along Hwy 365 to allow for a development called Stone Canyon.
Last year, this property was annexed into Maumelle, but it came in with zoning and land use that would have only allowed for single-family housing. Since the annexation took place, a development opportunity has been proposed that will contain a mixture of single-family and multi-family townhomes. By a 6-2 vote, the council approved these changes so that the project can move forward.
In the coming months, we anticipate additional parcels of land to be annexed into Maumelle so that this development can come to fruition. This development will feature extensive use of green space to allow for trails as well as an abandoned quarry that will be turned into a mountain bike trail for public use.
During discussion on this project, several council members (myself included) expressed a desire to have more types of housing options available for current and future residents. Our city is predominately single-family housing, which takes up a lot of space. In the past year, we’ve seen more interest in townhome and multi-family style developments and there are several of these projects now underway. I expect these will be very successful in our community since there are many people who don’t want to live in a typical stand-alone home which comes with more home and yard maintenance. As a city, I believe it’s important we provide multiple styles of housing options for our current and future residents. With house prices increasing dramatically over the last few years, diversifying our housing options is even more important as we move forward so that people aren’t priced out of Maumelle and have to look elsewhere to live.
In new business, the council heard a proposal from Council Member Jessie Holt to adjust the fee and fine schedule for pet owners in the city. His original proposal raised the registration fee for an intact pet (one that’s not spayed or neutered) to $250 annually. This was discussed for an extensive period and was later amended to $75 annually. Spayed and neutered pets would continue to be $5 annually if they’re microchipped and $25 if they’re not microchipped. The reason for the higher registration fee for intact pets is because these are the ones the city has most difficulty with. Intact pets are typically the ones that escape their yards or homes and cause issues with other pets and homeowners. Also, this ordinance would update the fines associated with dogs/cats that are at-large in the city. Our fine schedule has not been updated in many years, so this is a needed change to encourage pet owners to be responsible with their animals. A new category of fine was also proposed that would add penalties for dog/cat at-large that cause injury as well as another category for injuries that require professional treatment (urgent care, ER, hospital, etc.).
This ordinance will be discussed at the next two meetings before being voted on at the Nov. 7 council meeting. I’d welcome any feedback regarding the proposed changes.
Next in new business, the council approved (by a 7-1 vote) a resolution to acquire property in the area where the new White Oak Crossing / Country Club Parkway roundabout will be built. The purchase price for this property was $13,880.
The council heard the first readings of a couple of ordinances which clarify language in our city code for processes used in our Planning and Zoning Department. These changes to code bring the language up to date with the processes our Planning Commission uses for rezoning applications as well as hearing and filing procedures. An additional ordinance related to planning was an update to our city’s Master Street Plan for the route of a future road extending east from the White Oak Crossing Interchange to Hwy 365.
The last item of new business we heard was a proposal by Mayor Caleb Norris to bring public Pickleball courts to Maumelle.
These courts would be located to the south and east of the Community Center where the city currently has available land (see above). The mayor proposed two different options for constructing these courts with the first being a phased approach where we initially build 3 courts and then follow along later with a second phase and add 4 more courts. The estimated cost for a two-phase approach is $616,000.
The other option was to build all 7 courts at once which would reduce the total cost for the city. The estimated cost if we built all 7 courts would be $600,000. The mayor suggested using funds that the city has set aside from the American Rescue Plan Act. The general feedback from the council was to move forward with engaging the public for feedback and begin talking with engineers about design work.
While nothing has been formally approved, the feedback was positive, and I look forward to seeing this project move further into the design phase. Public pickleball courts have been one of the most requested items to be added to our city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Additionally, this is an amenity that would require minimal financial support from the city going forward in terms of annual maintenance and repair expenses.
That’s all for the week, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Chad 501-529-1336, firstname.lastname@example.org