JONESBORO — After approving further revisions to guidelines for the proposed new cottage housing ordinance, the Jonesboro City Council nonetheless postponed final approval Tuesday to give residents an opportunity to digest those changes.
The third and final reading of the proposed cottage housing ordinance was postponed at the council’s March 2 meeting, after several people said the standards were too loose. Members of community groups who had opposed the measure previously expressed appreciation for the changes, but council member Mitch Johnson said, “I personally am not comfortable with making a final decision.” He said some of the changes were raised Tuesday for the first time.
The proposal would authorize construction of smaller detached housing constructed in clusters surrounding a central village green. The cottage homes would be built in clusters of four with a maximum of 12 units on one acre under the proposal. The vision is to use this housing as infill in older sections of town, other than property that is zoned R-1 single family residential.
The cottage housing would be authorized in R-2, R-3, and planned development PD-RS and PD-RM 6-16.
Before Planning Director Derrell Smith tweaked the guidelines, some opponents said the loose language could enable developers to just build “glorified trailer parks.”
Changes include a 1,000-foot buffer between cottage developments.
Each development would be sent to the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission for site plan review to both ensure it meets standards and fits the character of the existing neighborhood.
And no more than two cottages can look the same.
An issue that can’t be regulated by the city is whether the cottages would be owner-occupied or rental properties, Smith said.
Scott Darwin, who lives on Sylvan Drive off North Caraway Road, and is a member of a new group called Northside Coalition for the Betterment of Jonesboro, said he appreciated the city staff’s willingness to work with neighborhood groups.
“Ordinances of such far-reaching magnitude do not come before the city council very often,” Darwin said. “But when they do, the MAPC, city council and the mayor should be certain that all people who will be impacted will have the chance to participate in the creation of this ordinance. It is fundamental to a democracy that such decisions be made openly and with the participation of the general public.”
Another member of the new coalition, Billy Brown of Mays Road, said he appreciated the changes.
“We do not oppose the fundamental concept of cottage housing,” Brown said. “We do, however, wish to present the idea of full disclosure.”
Brown said there should be a specially designated cottage housing zoning designation, rather allowing the developments by right in the other approved zones.
One resident, Shirley Moore, who lives on Mount Vernon Drive, said she saw the concept as an opportunity for more affordable and desirable housing for retired people.
The issue will return to the agenda April 20.
In other business, the council gave final approval to an ordinance proposed by P & H Investments that seeks to abandon a portion of a drainage easement at 2203 E. Parker Road.
Ignacio Islas also gained approval to rezone the seven-acre former Eagles Club property at 305 Airport Road to RS-8 single family residential.
The council heard the first of three required readings of an ordinance that would abandon a five-foot portion of an existing 25-foot drainage easement within the Brendar Village Development, east of Stadium Boulevard, at the request of Citifirst Property Group.
Council members heard the second readings of proposed ordinances that would:
Define and provide zoning classifications for homeless shelters.
Rezone 21 acres adjacent to 3506 Southwest Drive from commercial to RS-6 single family residential. It would provide for 72 single family homes. The property would become part of the 118-acre multi use Southern Hills Development.
Authorize a restaurant private club permit for Supporting Advancement Inc., doing business as Lost Pizza at Hilltop, 3410 E. Johnson Ave. The club boasts of 127 members. The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division would also have to give its approval.
Final action on those proposals is scheduled for April 20.
The council also approved resolutions to:
Approve the ballot language for electing the Position 1 council members by ward in the 2022 election.
Create a new video analyst position within the police department to handle video from body-worn cameras. In the case of Freedom of Information Act requests, certain audio and video have to be redacted to prevent the release of personal information.
Approve a $68,145 assessment by the Arkansas Public Entity Risk Management Association.
Approve a partnership with Post Foods in which the company would contribute up to $400,000 of the cost to make rail track improvements.
Amend the 2021 budget to add three firefighter positions.