Last week’s meeting was a 2 ½ hour marathon with a packed agenda so let’s get right into it.
ChrisTina Russell was recognized as Maumelle’s employee of the month. ChrisTina works in our city’s finance department and makes sure all our invoices and payments are processed timely and accurately. Thank you for all your hard work ChrisTina!
Our city’s finance department continues to make great progress towards cleaning up past year’s bank reconciliations. They have finished reconciling all of 2020’s books and are almost caught up through recent months in 2021. This will allow the city to quickly move to complete all of our previous year’s audits. Many thanks go to those in our finance department who have been putting in lots of hours getting our finances cleared up as we head into budget season for 2022.
Under unfinished business the council unanimously approved three separate ordinances:
Approving a franchise agreement with Unite Private Networks to allow them to offer data internet service within the city
An ordinance incorporating newly annexed land into ward 4 of the city.
An ordinance allowing architectural metals to be used and incorporated into building designs in the city.
Under new business, we had a lengthy list of items to consider.
The O’Reilly Senior Living project was back on the agenda after being denied previously by a 4-4 vote of the council. Due to a recent ordinance that the council just passed, we’re now allowing multi-family residential uses in Commercial 2 zoning if the applicant applies for and is granted a conditional use permit by the council. Since this option was not available when the O’Reilly project was denied, they requested a waiver to have this considered again. The waiver was granted by a 7-1 vote of the council, so O’Reilly will reapply with the Planning Commission and it will ultimately come back to the council again for approval. If you have an interest in seeing this Senior living project move forward in our community, I’d recommend contacting your council member for your ward to get more details and ask for their opinion on the project. Personally, I’d like to see it move forward, so we’ll see how this plays out in the coming months.
The council unanimously approved a resolution of intent to issue industrial development bonds for up to $130 million for a prospect that is looking to move into Maumelle’s industrial park. This is great news for our city in that we’re attracting attention from companies wanting to locate here. Industrial Development Bonds are a tool authorized by state law and we’ve previously authorized similar bonds for Kimberly-Clark, one of our current companies in the park. I look forward to more news soon about the new company locating in Maumelle.
A new residential neighborhood, Pinnacle Heights, is seeking to establish a Municipal Property Owners Improvement District. There was quite a bit of discussion about this agenda item with some council members saying they were opposed to it. However, state law is pretty clear on this matter and as long as the application is proper, then it is our duty to authorize and set up the district. Here’s the language from state law referring to the governing body’s (city council’s) duty: “…it shall then be its duty by ordinance to establish and lay off the district as defined in the petition…” So I anticipate this district will pass through the council even if some are opposed. The petitioner (Pinnacle Heights owner) could challenge the city in court and would likely win if it was deemed their application was proper and the council still denied it.
The council unanimously approved entering into a settlement agreement regarding the nationwide opioid litigation. This has been a multi-year process and we were encouraged by Attorney General Rutledge and the Arkansas Municipal League to enter into this agreement.
The council unanimously approved a street fund budget resolution to pay for engineering costs (up to $9,750) for a sidewalk project. This project will connect Club Manor to Lake Willastein with a new sidewalk largely paid for by a $62,000 grant the city received. This will be a great connection and allow our pedestrian paths to become more contiguous throughout the city.
A few other notes of interest as we wrapped up the meeting:
The mayor mentioned that a temporary 4-way stop would go live on Tuesday, Nov. 2 at White Oak Crossing and Diamond Park Lane. As a personal observation, this has had mixed results over the last few days. While it’s certainly helped Maumelle residents access White Oak Crossing, it’s also causing backups during the evening rush hour. Some days there are large backups and other days there are not. We’ll see how this plays out in the coming weeks and adjustments might be made. Either way, this is only temporary until the roundabout is constructed
I asked the mayor for a brief update on the roundabout construction for this roadway. He advised that he was still hopeful construction would begin prior to the end of this year. There have been delays with some additional reporting requirements since federal funds are being used, but he’s hopeful the project will begin construction this year.