Fayetteville council appoints resident to fill vacancy

Posted: November 22, 2017 at 1:05 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/STACY RYBURN Kyle Smith (left), Ward 4 resident, speaks Tuesday to Fayetteville's City Council. The council appointed Smith to fill former member Alan Long's vacant Ward 4 seat.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The City Council appointed a school teacher to fill a vacancy left by former member Alan Long, who represented Ward 4 on the west side of town.

Kyle Smith, a longtime resident of Ward 4 and geometry teacher at Har-Ber High School, was appointed to the council by a 5-2 vote. Mayor Lioneld Jordan cast the deciding vote after the council split 4-2. Council members Justin Tennant and John La Tour, the other Ward 4 representative, cast the no votes. City Attorney Kit Williams said an appointment required at least five votes.

Next meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5

Where: Room 219, City Hall, 113 W. Mountain St.

Long cited family and professional obligations and the time commitment required to be a council member in a resignation letter dated Saturday. A state statute required the council to hold a special election or appoint someone Tuesday. The council voted 4-2 to make the appointment. Tennant and La Tour dissented.

A special election would have been held in February. City Clerk Sondra Smith estimated it would cost $10,000 to $30,000.

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La Tour said the cost would be worth preserving the ability for Ward 4 residents to choose a representative.

Long served 11 months since his re-election. Tennant said he didn't feel comfortable appointing someone on the fly to serve three years on the council.

At least 10 residents sent email to the city stressing their desire to be appointed. The city clerk's office distributed the email, along with email showing support for others.

The council interviewed seven residents on the spot. Questions touched on what the candidates saw as the top three priorities for the city, how they would juggle a day-to-day job with council duties and accomplishments on various committees.

The council made the decision just before 10 p.m. Tuesday.

In other business, the council left on its first reading two provisions, one that would rezone College Avenue from Maple to North streets and another that would apply downtown's architectural and design standards to that same stretch. It passed a third measure converting the measuring of building height in the city's code from height to stories. The change is a straight conversion, Development Services Director Garner Stoll said.

The city has been working on rezoning College Avenue since April. Council Member Matthew Petty said he wanted to leave the issue on its first reading to allow residents time to comment.

Several residents showed up to City Hall related to an item that would have terminated the city's lease with the University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture for Lewis Soccer Fields. Jordan recommended the item be tabled indefinitely, which effectively reinstated the original term of the lease. The lease will expire June 30, 2018.

The council approved 5-0 allowing VIP Club, owned by Sami Ammar Haddaji, to operate as a private club at 326 N. West Ave. At a previous council meeting, Police Chief Greg Tabor expressed concern another club in that part of the entertainment district could exacerbate an already difficult situation.

The club will close at 1:30 a.m., rather than 2 a.m. Also, employees will take a course in fake IDs the Police Department offers. The council amended the original ordinance to include those provisions.

The council passed 5-0 an ordinance regulating small cell facilities after taking up the item for the fourth time. The ordinance refers to apparatus in development far smaller than today's cell towers that will provide 5G service to mobile users.

The ordinance strives to keep the application process for telecommunications companies to install the technology streamlined. It also preserves the right of way, makes sure the city's landscape isn't cluttered and establishes fair and reasonable application and licensing fees, according to a city memo.

An attorney representing the telecommunications industry asked for the word "reasonably" be inserted into certain parts of the ordinance dealing with keeping the apparatus camouflaged. The council amended the ordinance to include the language.

The council also passed the city's $160 million budget for 2018.

NW News on 11/22/2017