Lawyer’s pres­ence not re­quired, he said

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - COMMUNITY - ANNETTE BEARD abeard@nwadg.com

The ab­sence of the city at­tor­ney at the Sept. 5 Pea Ridge Plan­ning Com­mis­sion de­layed a de­ci­sion on a home oc­cu­pa­tion re­quest as plan­ners ques­tioned the city’s le­gal obli­ga­tion when pre­sented with sub­di­vi­sion covenants that for­bid a home busi­ness in that sub­di­vi­sion. At a tech re­view meet­ing later that week, city of­fi­cials had sev­eral ques­tions for which they wanted a le­gal opin­ion.

City build­ing of­fi­cial Tony Townsend said he has not been able to con­tact Mike Bear­den, city at­tor­ney, and that emails he has sent to him have been re­turned as “un­de­liv­er­able.”

One of the is­sues un­der dis­cus­sion was what the city’s po­si­tion should be in is­su­ing home oc­cu­pa­tion per­mits to res­i­dents in sub­di­vi­sions for which there are covenants or re­stric­tions pro­hibit­ing home busi­nesses.

Bear­den, who bought Slinkard Law Firm and re­placed Howard Slinkard as city at­tor­ney when Slinkard re­tired, said Mon­day that he has been told by Townsend that he is not needed at Plan­ning Com­mis­sion meet­ings.

“He said I don’t neeed to go un­less Tony wants me there,” Bear­den said,adding that he sends an email to Townsend ev­ery week be­fore the sched­ule meet­ing and doesn’t re­ceive a re­sponse. “I’m not even get­ting an agenda, hardly ever … I quit call­ing be­cause he said he didn’t need me.”

Bear­den has re­lo­cated his of­fice to 9 Hal­stead Cir­cle but said his tele­phone num­ber has re­mained the same.

He serves as city at­tor­ney for both Pea Ridge and Garfield.

Garfield Mayor Gary Black­burn said he talks to Bear­den sev­eral times a week.

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