Are the city planners and City Council members a bunch of “greedy pigs” tromping on the constitutional rights of people who live outside the city limits?
Are they forcing their zoning rules onto those who live in the city’s Territorial Jurisdiction?
Or are the city fathers and planners concerned about rational development in areas that may someday be annexed into the city?
Does the new zoning limit property owners or does it protect them from what could move in next door?
On Tuesday, the Conway City Council approved a measure that would create new T-2 (Rural) Territorial Zoning District outside the city’s corporate limits but within the city’s 2-mile jurisdiction.
It does not affect residential development but will require all other development to have a conditional use permit.
Mary Kathleen Waldner lives on Beaverfork Lake outside the Conway city limits.
She keeps a copy of the U.S. Constitution in her purse.
She told the City Council on Tuesday night that they were acting like “greedy pigs” wanting to tell residents outside the city limits what they can do with their property.
“I trust our founding fathers. I don’t trust you,” she said.
In a later interview, she said: “The city wants our money, but we don’t get the goodies, like Conway Corp.
“They want to make the entrances to the city pretty, but what’s pretty? One alderman’s idea of pretty may be different from another alderman’s idea of pretty. It’s subjective. Who gets the final say?
“I sympathize with the people who live near Frac Tech, but to penalize the rest of us for Frac Tech’s actions? That’s overreaching. It’s always the way: Give them a little, they’ll take a lot.”
What happens in the county should be the county’s business, she said.
“If for no other reason, it would have been etiquette to inform the county they were going to go into the county’s jurisdiction. This should have been cleared with the county’s residents before a vote was taken. A town hall meeting would have been a good idea to make residents aware of what’s going on.
“It shocked me that this passed. I know they have the legal authority to do this, but it’s not ethical. It just doesn’t go down well. The city council has enough to do in the city limits. That’s why we have the Quorum Court.
“It’s bigger government coming down Beaverfork Road. It’s taxation without representation. It’s all about freedom. More government takes away more freedom.”
At the council meeting, Waldner volunteered to become one of the three planning commissioners from the territorial jurisdiction allowed to serve on the Planning Commission under the new ordinance.
Craig Cloud, vice-chairman of the Conway Planning Commission, voted in a special meeting in March to move the proposed zoning for the city’s territorial jurisdiction forward to the City Council.
“I believe the city has an interest in monitoring and having input about activities in areas that may one day be annexed into the city,” Cloud said on Friday.
“The state law allows cities to do this, but the purpose and concern of the zoning is to protect the city, its residents, its businesses, its industries from encroachment of development that could be contrary to the interest of the development of Conway.
“Please understand that this zoning does not affect agriculture or residential development,” Cloud said.
“Had we had this ordinance before Frac Tech, a huge industry located right outside the city limits and near a residential subdivision, we could have prevented them from locating there or, had they complied in asking for a conditional use permit, as required in this zoning ordinance, we could have regulated their hours of operation, limited the noise, the environmental impact, the possible pollution.
“It would have protected the interest, property rights and values of the nearby residents,” Cloud said.
The property on Highway 65N that once housed the oilfield supply company Frac Tech is vacant and for sale.
Pam Schulte makes chocolates she sells to shops all over the state. Part flea market, part antique shop, part candy store, Granny’s Hidden Treasures is between Conway’s city limits and the tourist attraction that is Pickles Gap.
She said when Frac Tech began preparation for construction on Highway 65N, they graded the site that sent drainage onto her property.
“We flooded four times,” she said.
She spent $10,000 cleaning out a ditch behind her property to handle the flow of water.
She likes the idea of regulation, she said. She sees the benefit of having someone looking out for her interests.
Conway Alderman Mark Vaught lives in a subdivision that backs up to Frac Tech. He wrote the following in an email.
“My reasoning for the TJ zoning is simply to protect residential property owners from the encroachment of heavy commercial and industrial uses just outside the city limit boundaries.
“In the case of Frac Tech, the industrial site was located literally in many of my neighbors’ back yards, and yet there was no law, ordinance, or restriction that kept this industry from operating loud machinery and bright lights 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
“This presented a unique situation, and one way to prevent such negative impacts was to exercise the territorial zoning jurisdiction allowed by state law.
“As originally proposed, I wasn’t in favor of the depths of the ordinance’s ability to regulate such uses as light commercial, religious, and other non-intensive non-residential uses. I was not in favor of the regulation of all signage outside the city limits, but I would have been open to the compromise of the regulation of billboards only.
“Because of these “overreaching” aspects of the ordinance, I proposed the parliamentary procedure of “dividing the question” so that the council could consider each aspect of the ordinance separately. I voted against the sections that regulated light non-residential use and signage.
“Still, the ordinance, as written, will not affect any form of residential use. It will not require any permits, inspections, or add any governance to residential property owners that isn’t already there now.
“It does not allow the city to levy additional property taxes or sales taxes in this area. I will have to check with our city attorney, but I’m not even sure the city has the authority to charge fees for its conditional use permits outside the city limits, which, under this new ordinance, would be required for property use that is more intensive than residential.
“Many of the complaints about this ordinance have been summed into the phrase ‘taxation without representation.’
“Because people who live near Conway often work, eat, and shop in Conway, I don’t believe my representation of citizens ends at the city limit sign. I have always been willing to represent those outside of Ward 2.
“Because the city isn’t taxing these residents, and this ordinance will ultimately allow some protection of both city and county residents from encroachment of heavy industrial uses, then I prefer to call this ‘representation without taxation.’ ”
Bryan Patrick is director of planning and development for the City of Conway.
He assists the planning commission and provides information as they and the City Council make decisions about zoning and other land use matters.
He said the new zoning ordinance will provide protection for property owners against the location of all manner of bad things that might want to be close to Conway and all its benefits.
“Those in the county now have no say in what is built next to them.
“Imagine the worst: a slaughterhouse, a chemical factory, a motorcycle shop that revs engines all night long.
“This ordinance provides homeowners with a layer of protection they didn’t have before and gives them opportunity to speak when a business or industry proposes to build near them.
“Businesses will be the ones inconvenienced when they have to present their proposals and abide by the conditions set by the regulations, the commissioners and the council, but I believe it will be a small price to pay for the betterment of the larger community,” Patrick said.
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-1234.)