Springtown council petition denied, appealed
Judge puts roadblock in Bredehoeft Road project
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.