March 26, 2012 by Steve Winkler
A showdown was averted over Mayor Hime’s veto of last month’s council vote that reversed the planning commission’s denial to establish a commercial zone in a residential neighborhood. A motion by Alderman Rodney Drymon to override the mayor’s veto and grant the rezoning request failed to get a second. Game over.
Mike Landa who serves as Planning Commission Chair sought and was denied approval by the commission for his property on McKnight Ave to be rezoned to commercial. He appealed that decision to the City Council who at the February meeting reversed the Commission and granted his request. The mayor vetoed the council’s decision citing a need to take a closer look at possible legal ques- tions.
The council listened to Darrell Giddy, Landa’s attorney, argue that the mayor had a conflict of interest because Hime is the subject of a law suit by Landa. Alderman Charlie Rossetti asked City At- torney Tom Kieklak if there was a conflict of interest. Kieklak said he saw “no legal conflict at all.” He also advised the council that they should “be careful about going outside the [regional] plan.”
Giddy reminded the council that last month they had deliberated over an hour. He noted that Hime had done business in the neighborhood for 10 years and that the commercial zoning would not result in “opening the flood gates.” Giddy sug- gested the mayor was “silencing the authority of the city council.”
Alderwoman Joan Wright who had made the original motion to grant Landa his rezoning request at the February meeting told Mayor Hime that, “having time to think about it, parts I didn’t understand, I’m personally glad you made the veto.”
Two citizens spoke in support of the mayor. Glyn Finley a former planning commission member said he appreciated the veto, adding, “Zoning ordinances are a commitment to people who buy property in the city; you have changes but changes should be done slowly with considerable public input.”
Former city clerk Paula Caudle said the council’s decision had been rash and Landa appeared to become increasing chagrined and at one point exclaimed, “no one wants to go through this, that’s B***S***… the lies, the deceit… She’s denying me due process. It’s abuse of office” and quoted from a legal document. Joan Wright asked him to control his language.
After Drymon’s failed motion to support Landa’s request for rezoning the council recommended the matter be re- turned to the planning commission with instructions to revisit the definition of a home business and conditional use permit and report back in 60 days. During that time no “interdiction” would occur and no more fees would incur.
In other business the council approved installation of “speed bumps” on Clifton Street. Alderwoman Misty Caudle asked about the 8-month vacancy on the Water Commission. Utilities Superintendent Michael “Butch” Bartholomew answered that they were “trying to get someone to agree.” No names were mentioned.
The watershed cleanup will be May 19, and the city-wide cleanup was discussed. The Watershed Alliance has applied for a rain garden grant.
The mayor is working on an animal control ordinance and the council agreed to have a working session to discuss this. Until the Washington County Animal Shelter is complete the animal contract with Fayetteville is in place.
Jackie Bonner and Wes Eckles were nominated for planning commission.
To honor the 100 year anniversary of Scouting, cookies and milk preceded the meeting, and several Girl Scout lead the Pledge of Alliance.
Alderwoman Julie Shaffer was absent. Meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.