Spring­town coun­cil pe­ti­tion de­nied, ap­pealed

Judge puts road­block in Bre­de­hoeft Road project

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - RANDY MOLL [email protected]

SPRING­TOWN — A pe­ti­tion filed by the town of Spring­town in Oc­to­ber 2017 re­quest­ing a declara­tory judg­ment to void a 2014 town coun­cil or­di­nance which nar­rowed an “un­plat­ted” 60-foot-wide street to 20 feet was de­nied on Nov. 11, 2018, but is be­ing ap­pealed by the town coun­cil, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

At is­sue is the width of a for­mer street be­tween Bre­de­hoeft

Road and Flint Creek, near the Don Earley Me­mo­rial Bridge on Aubrey Long Road. The un­used street was nar­rowed in 2014, giv­ing to ad­ja­cent landown­ers Michael Evans, Lisa Tay­lor and Paul Lemke the land va­cated by the town.

The coun­cil in place in 2017 was seek­ing to re­open the street as a con­tin­u­a­tion of Bre­de­hoeft Road and reroute traf­fic from Bre­de­hoeft and Aubrey Long Roads there rather than on the cur­rent Aubrey Long Road which passes by the home and big spring on prop­erty owned by Pre­ston and Ka­ree Bar­rett.

Some have ar­gued, in­clud­ing the Gen­try School Dis­trict’s trans­porta­tion de­part­ment, that mak­ing the nec­es­sary turn from the ex­ten­sion of Bre­de­hoeft Road onto the bridge would be dif­fi­cult for school buses and large farm ve­hi­cles.

The re­open­ing of this spur of Bre­de­hoeft Road and as­so­ci­ated changes re­main con­tro­ver­sial and re­late to a years-old dis­pute over the lo­ca­tion of the Aubrey Long Bridge. When the bridge was planned in 2012, Ka­ree and Pre­ston Bar­rett ob­jected to its lo­ca­tion near a nat­u­ral spring on their prop­erty. Af­ter the bridge was com­pleted, the Bar­retts blamed as­so­ci­ated county road work for caus­ing sink­holes on their prop­erty. Af­ter Pre­ston Bar­rett was elected mayor and Ka­ree Barett elected to the town coun­cil, the ad­min­is­tra­tion em­barked on a plan to take back road­ways pre­vi­ously aban­doned by Spring­town and reroute traf­fic from the bridge away from their prop­erty.

Ac­cord­ing to the pe­ti­tion filed on Oct. 13, 2017, the pro­posed 2014 or­di­nance was adopted with less than a 2/3 ma­jor­ity of the coun­cil vot­ing in fa­vor of sus­pend­ing the rules and read­ing by ti­tle only and then pass­ing the or­di­nance on three read­ings with a sin­gle vote. The mo­tion to sus­pend the rules and read by ti­tle only, as well as the vote to pass the or­di­nance on three read­ings with a sin­gle vote, ac­cord­ing to the pe­ti­tion filed in Ben­ton County Cir­cuit Court, was with three coun­cil mem­bers in fa­vor and two ab­stain­ing, or 3/5 of the coun­cil and not with the re­quired 2/3 of the coun­cil.

The pe­ti­tion also al­leges that then-mayor Paul Lemke, who in­tro­duced the or­di­nance, and El­nora Kay Tay­lor, who voted to com­bine the three read­ings into a sin­gle read­ing, ben­e­fited from the pass­ing of the or­di­nance and should not have par­tic­i­pated in the in­tro­duc­tion or adop­tion of the or­di­nance. It also al­leges that Linda Tay­lor, daugh­ter of El­nora Kay Tay­lor, sec­onded a mo­tion to read the pro­posed or­di­nance by ti­tle only and should not have par­tic­i­pated in the coun­cil ac­tions since her mother stood to ben­e­fit from the pas­sage of the or­di­nance.

The pe­ti­tion al­leges that the 3-year-old or­di­nance should be de­clared void and the 20-feet on each side of the for­mer Bre­de­hoeft Road be re­stored to the city be­cause the pass­ing of the or­di­nance was not done ac­cord­ing to Arkansas Code.

In his rul­ing on Nov. 11, Judge John Scott said the pre­vi­ous coun­cil had law­fully passed the or­di­nance and he de­nied the town’s mo­tion to void the 2014 coun­cil ac­tion.

The town filed a pe­ti­tion to re­con­sider the de­nial on Dec. 19, 2018, us­ing case law based on a Van Hoven­burg v. Hole­man de­ci­sion.

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