Update on Zoning Ordinance, Sheriff’s Deputy Contract, Code Enforcement, & Trash Service Transition
Thought I might update everyone on what’s going on in the city. First of all, our zoning ordinance has passed the 2nd reading at this week’s City Council meeting. This is a very extensive document that codifies some of the things that are currently in the unit covenants as well as many other issues relative to land use. As an example, whereas the covenants basically have six property classifications such as R1 for residential and C1 for commercial, the zoning ordinance has 17 classifications allowing for more classifications such as governmental uses and rural wooded. The zoning ordinance also regulates things such as home occupation uses for residential lots which is a growing concern where parking of commercial vehicles and/or storing of commercial materials and equipment has an adverse impact on neighboring residential property values. The zoning ordinance also touches on vacation or short-term rentals in residential areas although a more detailed ordinance regulating that activity will be coming in the future. A major component to the zoning ordinance and reason for the ordinance is that any future development of parcels will have to be approved by the Planning Commission. Historically, the Developer retained tight control over that. However, since most or all of the undeveloped parcels are now in private ownership, the city needs to regulate how these properties are developed.
Secondly, after several months of negotiating a new contract with Carroll County for providing a 2nd deputy to assist in patrolling Holiday Island, we feel we have a final draft which is now being presented to the respective governing bodies for approval. In essence, starting approximately in January, the City and HISID will provide the County with another patrol vehicle and pay the monthly expenses for two deputies. The County will continue to supply the 2nd vehicle plus all the dispatch support. This will be a great addition to Holiday Island since one deputy cannot respond to all the calls for assistance, address crime and possible criminal activity and do adequate traffic control. Traffic control is an area where the residents would like to see more attention. However, crime prevention and investigating potential criminal activity in my opinion should be our main priority. Without adequate backup, one single deputy is unable to accomplish that. And without an adequate policing presence, Holiday Island can and will become a haven for criminal activity.
Third is code enforcement. Many residents are becoming impatient relative to code enforcement since it was one of the primary reasons for incorporating as a city and it’s been almost two years. I provide no excuses but do offer as a reason that it takes time to get a city running from scratch. There are a lot of ducks to get in rows before we start knocking on doors. Most significantly we have to have ordinances to enforce and a court system through which we can process citations. The last piece of the puzzle is having a District Court agreement with Judge Ramsey and the Eureka Springs District Court. We have a draft of that agreement and would hope to have that in place no later than November. With that in place, the city has an enforcement officer ready to start addressing problem areas.
And last but not least, we are past our target transition period to get everyone switched over to Carroll County Solid Waste (CCSW) for trash service. So far, we have mixed results. Even though the decision was not a popular one for many residents, most of the people that were using Ace, Osage or Republic have made the switch. Many of the part time residents that are only here periodically or on weekends and qualify for the bag tag service have purchased tags. One property management company that streamlines trash from several properties into one dumpster and one condo association that contracts for their association have contacted the city. Now we must go through the list of remaining names and addresses of people who for whatever reason have not signed up or contacted the city. I assume many are out of state and even though we sent out a mailing earlier this year, may not be aware of what’s going on. Several others I am sure have never paid for trash service or used the other companies and are going to try to buck the system. In time they will have to comply or go to court and convince a judge that the ordinance doesn’t apply to them. The city had legal, valid, and significant reasons for passing the solid waste ordinance. Hopefully people will come to realize that being “the resistance” does not make them good community members. It only adds cost for all of those who willingly comply.