Re­zon­ing ap­proval fails plan­ning com­mis­sion

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Hunter McFer­rin Staff Writer hm­c­fer­rin@nwadg.com ■

Mem­bers of the city plan­ning com­mis­sion failed to ap­prove a re­zone de­vel­op­ment per­mit on Tues­day night af­ter hear­ing op­pos­ing ar­gu­ments from res­i­dents who live nearby the prop­erty in ques­tion.

The pro­posal per­tains to a rental home lo­cated at 817 N. Mt. Olive, in ad­di­tion to an empty lot that is lo­cated south of the prop­erty. Cur­rently, the prop­erty is clas­si­fied as R-2, which means that two res­i­den­tial dwellings are per­mit­ted to be there. The in­ten­tion of the mo­tion that failed was to up-zone the prop­erty to R-4, which would al­low for mul­ti­fam­ily dwellings to be built, such as an apart­ment com­plex.

The pro­posal died in the plan­ning com­mis­sion due to lack of a mo­tion for ap­proval by any of the mem­bers present. It will now be sent to the city board for fur­ther re­view dur­ing their meet­ing on July 3, with­out a rec­om­men­da­tion from the plan­ning com­mis­sion. Some rea­sons given by res­i­dents of the area who are op­posed to the mea­sure in­clude an over­all lack of space for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment, safety con­cerns, in­creased noise due to greater num­bers of peo­ple and

the po­ten­tial of a de­crease of their prop­erty val­ues.

Wade Batch­e­lor, who lives at 116 E. Helena St., which runs per­pen­dic­u­lar to North Mt. Olive Street, is a neigh­bor whose fence bor­ders the prop­erty. He was the first at the podium to ex­plain why he is op­posed to the de­vel­op­ment.

“We bought that house be­cause all of East Helena is all sin­gle fam­ily homes,” Batch­e­lor said. “We feel that there is not space, it could drop our prop­erty value and it re­ally is not that large of an area.”

An­other res­i­dent who spoke out in op­po­si­tion to the pro­posal is Tab­bitha Easley of 801 N. Mt. Olive. Easley said that she at­tempted to pur­chase the lot and the dwelling from its owner, Pruner Prop­er­ties, LLC, but that they were un­will­ing to sell it. Easley spoke pri­mar­ily of her con­cerns about renters mov­ing near her home and the prospect of hav­ing her prop­erty value de­crease.

“Well-kept town­houses with renters with in­tegrity per­haps may not de­crease my prop­erty value,” Easley said. “How­ever, the cur­rent renters, I do not think I have seen the po­lice more at any other (renter’s res­i­dence). The prop­erty is very run down and poorly kept.

“I do not know the land­lord’s re­la­tion­ship with that spe­cific rental but my con­cern is that it will be run down and not prop­erly main­tained and that will de­crease my prop­erty value. And, if I wanted to turn around and sell it, it is just go­ing to be an eye­sore.”

De­spite these sen­ti­ments, Steven Bishop, who is the owner of Bishop Prop­er­ties Con­struc­tion, Com­mer­cial and Res­i­den­tial in Siloam Springs, at­tended the meet­ing as a pro­po­nent of re­zon­ing the area. While speak­ing to mem­bers of the com­mis­sion, Bishop de­fended the mea­sure, say­ing that the de­vel­op­ment would im­prove the area’s ap­pear­ance and econ­omy.

“It would ac­tu­ally in­crease their prop­erty val­ues. We are elim­i­nat­ing the house that is there now and putting up a very costly struc­ture and sys­tem that will in­crease the prop­erty val­ues of those in the area,” Bishop said. “They will not be low-end apart­ments, that is not what we are look­ing to do here. What we have come up with, as a pre­lim­i­nary con­cept, are town-homes that are unique. So there would be a num­ber of town-homes that face North Mount Olive, each one would be in­di­vid­ual and they would com­pli­ment the down­town his­toric district.”

Prior to their at­tempt to vote on the pro­posal, the com­mis­sion’s Chair­man Karl Mounger shared his fi­nal thoughts about the idea.

“I have al­ways been op­posed, and I will say it right now, to putting any­thing into R-2, where there are sin­gle-fam­ily, res­i­den­tial homes.”

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