Citing incorrect timing, the city's board of directors voted 5-2 against an ordinance that would have allowed alcohol at special events on city property.
Before the vote on Ordinance 18-01, newly sworn in director Reid Carroll used a baseball analogy to explain his reasoning for voting against it. The ordinance was a city code amendment, which would have given the board authority to approve special permits for the sale and consumption of alcohol during events hosted by civic or non-profit groups on city-owned property, closed streets and parks.
"Concerning the community, I'll liken it to a baseball player," Carroll said. "He can see that perfect pitch coming. But if he swings too early, he's going to hit a real hard one foul. But if he waits on that pitch and swings at the right time, it could be a home run."
Carroll's comment came after three owners of businesses that sell alcohol addressed the board in support of the amendment. Benton County became 'wet' after a 2012 vote allowed retail sales of alcohol despite 51 percent of Siloam Springs voted against the change.
"I think it would turn out like the vote in Siloam turned out, just a little bit more edge on the negative side than on the positive side," said director Frank Johnson after saying he solicited comments about the ordinance from the public. "The things that concerned me were the possibility of mixing alcohol and children in the parks ... I just don't think this is the time."
Director Carol Smiley said she had more feedback from the public about the proposed ordinance than any the board had ever considered before with "more that were against."
"I appreciate the citizens that are here tonight that have spoken for this ordinance," Smiley said. "You all are our economic development downtown. You are the future of Siloam, but at this point, I can't vote for this ordinance. I do think that it will come back, but I do not think it's the right time."
Director Steve Beers also voted against the proposal, citing three-quarters of emails he received were not in favor of the ordinance with people saying "this is too fast for me."
"If we kick it down the road, if we hold back and don't swing an errant pitch, what have we lost if we bring this back in two years?" Beers said. "In that context, I look forward to having the ball come across ... a good strike in the strike zone, and as we have been doing, for Siloam Springs to hit it out of the park."
Directors Brad Burns and Amy Smith voted to pass the proposed ordinance, mirroring the majority of the feedback they received from citizens.
"I'm in favor of this ordinance for many of the reasons others dislike it," Smith said. "That being that it has to come before the board each and every time, which allows the board to experiment and if there is an entity that has thrown an event that is not in line with our community, that is problematic to our police and staff, then we don't support it when it comes up again."
"No matter what happens tonight, this will continue to rear its head until we make some decision because the community demands it," Burns said. "I don't know if this ordinance, as it's written, will ever change, but I know it's not going to bed. I look forward to continuing to work on that, so that we can have some events in the future."
In other business, the board:
• Approved an airport ground lease with Simmons Prepared Foods to construct an 8,000-square-foot hangar at the airport. It's to house a second jet, which will help increase sales of jet fuel at the airport. Plans for the hangar will still have to undergo staff review before any construction can begin.
• Approved the purchases of a curbside recycling truck and a rear-load truck for the sanitation department. The total cost for the two trucks combined is $359,050 and both came in under what had been budgeted for the trucks. Both include added safety options for drivers.
• Approved a "Mid-Block Crossing Master Plan," which established standardized system for crosswalks that are needed anywhere there is not a traffic signal already in place.
• Tabled a third reading of an ordinance to rezone property at 2251 S. Lincoln Street for the new rodeo grounds. City staff needed more time to explore options, like finding grants to help fund the higher estimated cost of moving the rodeo grounds, and plan to discuss those at the board's Feb. 20 meeting.
• Heard the second reading of an ordinance that, if approved, would ask voters to extend the existing levy of a five-eighths percent sales tax to fund $31 million in upgrades at the city's water treatment plant.
• Heard the first reading of an ordinance to rezone property from rural to General Institutional for Ability Tree Inc. to build a new facility in the 2300 block of East Tahlequah Street.
• Approved a preliminary plat development permit, subject to recommended conditions for approval, for Phase 1 the Lawlis Ranch Subdivision, which will include 30 single-family homes on 14.26 acres on Lawlis Road.
• Approved a resolution authorizing a significant development permit for Library Park, which will include an outdoor stage and splash pad. It had been referred to as Medical Springs Park in the past, but the latest resolution called it Library Park.
• Approved two resolutions related to the sale and development of 10.36 acres owned by the city located east and southeast of the intersection of Cheri Whitlock Drive and Progress Avenue. E.J. Holdings LLC, which will purchase the property for $731,514, plans to develop a multi-family housing complex at the location.General News on 02/11/2018
Print Headline: Board won't allow alcohol on city property