SPRINGTOWN -- Aldermen in Springtown will hear reports and an update on an appeal to a judge's ruling relating to the validity of previous council action narrowing an unused street the council now would like to use as an extension of Bredehoeft Road, according to unapproved meeting minutes and a meeting agenda shared with the Eagle Observer.
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 Dec. 18, 2018, but a reconsideration of that action was requested 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 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 the years prior to 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.
In the years after Preston Barrett was elected mayor and Karee Barett elected to the town council, the council makeup changed and in the last two-plus years, under Mayor Terri Glenn, embarked on a plan to take back portions of a closed street previously narrowed by Springtown and reroute traffic from the bridge away from the Barrett property, though Paul Lemke, mayor in 2014, argues that opening up the closed street as a continuation of Bredehoeft Road would run the roadway past another spring contributing to Flint Creek and into a city park along the creek.
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 street be restored to the city because the passing of the ordinance was not done according to Arkansas Code.
In his ruling on Dec. 18, Judge John Scott said the previous council had lawfully passed the ordinance and 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.
According to unapproved minutes of Springtown's Dec. 11 meeting, it was reported that the judge ruled against the town in a hearing requesting a declaratory judgment, citing an obscure precedent, and the town must decide to appeal, ask for a reconsideration or abide by the ruling.
It was reported that the Bredehoeft Project will proceed as planned to maintain Bredehoeft Road from the bridge directly to Bredehoeft to provide an alternate to Aubrey Long. This will reduce traffic on Aubrey Long and better preserve the Big Spring, the unapproved meeting minutes state.
The town received a 50/50 grant from the Arkansas Rural Community Grant Program to replace the storm sirens. Grant funding in the amount of $5,625 (half the estimated cost) has been received and the siren has been ordered.
Doyle Swicegood of Swicegood Excavating toured Readings Road and Candleglow Road south of Arkansas Highway 12 and has agreed to do necessary repair work for an estimated $7,000. Work will begin as soon as weather allows.
In new business, a 2019 budget resolution was presented to the council for review and was adopted.
Alderman David Clark suggested a holiday event like a Christmas parade, party or other similar celebration for the community. Alderman Janet Bostwick suggested caroling on Main Street.
During the public comment period, town resident Paul Lemke expressed his opinion in opposition to the town's seeking a declaratory judgment to void previous council action and to the Bredehoeft Road project.
According to Nov. 13, 2018, minutes, the declaratory judgment hearing date was set for Jan. 3, and the town would submit a motion for a summary decision prior to this date. The minutes said the Bredehoeft Road project would be on hold until declaratory judgment was resolved.
George Rhoads, the town's attorney was reportedly still working on obtaining a deed for the town to its park. It was previously discovered the city did not have a deed to the parkland.
It was announced that James "Butch" Wiand was the replacement code inspector for the town.
Alderman Dixie Law suggested that the town combine park mowing with street duties, to include mowing town right-of-ways on an hourly rate rather than an established "per mow" rate.
Alderman David Clark asked about the weld repair performed on the Aubrey Long Bridge which did not eliminate the clanking noise when a car passes over the bridge. Mayor Glenn said she would follow up with the contractor to ensure the weld was performed properly. AHDT will also inspect the repairs.
The January meeting was rescheduled from Tuesday, Jan. 8, to Wednesday, Jan. 9, due to a conflict in Mayor Terri Glenn's schedule due to a medical procedure.
The agenda for the meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at town hall, includes a declaratory judgment update; Bredehoeft project update; siren replacement, delivery and installment; Readings Road project update; and establishing a meeting time and day for 2019.
General News on 01/09/2019
Print Headline: Springtown's council to hear updates on Bredehoeft Road Project