Fort Smith Board restricts sexually-oriented biz space

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 236 views 

Undeterred by past legal issues with regard to its allotment for sexually oriented businesses (SOB), the Fort Smith Board of Directors voted to reduce space for land usage to 1.4% Tuesday night (May 15) at its regularly scheduled meeting.

By vote of 5-2, the board adopted an ordinance that would require a 1,000-foot buffer between an SOB and a residential area. Directors Steve Tyler and Kevin Settle dissented.

The vote occurred after the board had voted 4-3 against an amendment that would move available land use to 4%, submitted by Director Steve Tyler.

Director Don Hutchings, pastor at Evangel Temple Church and a director who is not seeking re-election, would not budge.

“I appreciate Steve’s motion, though I’ll vote against it. I think we’re afraid of something that will possibly never happen,” Hutchings said.

Director Settle reminded board members that “we need to remember history and not repeat it,” referring to an approximate $800,000 judgment the city lost to Regina’s House of Dolls, an adult-oriented business that operated during the 1990’s in Fort Smith.

“If you look at the maps, we’re looking at areas (of allowance) that are not populated at all, far away from the citizens. From a standpoint of lawsuits that could come, (moving to 4% land use) shows we’re trying to move in the right direction. People may not want these businesses, but they have a right to be here,” Settle said.

Aside from Tyler, the board didn’t see it that way.

Also Tuesday night, the board voted 4-3 in favor of affirming the existing Fort Smith Municipal Code Section 25-268(b), which excludes citizens living in alley rights of way from the same standards as other city residents with regard to rules on the setting out and collecting of refuse and recycling containers.

While residents living outside of alley rights-of-way must not set out containers before noon the day before collection, and must have containers removed before midnight on the day of, citizens living in alley rights of way are excluded from the requirement, due to Tuesday’s vote.

Director Pam Weber, who on May 1 voted to approve of the Municipal Code revision, voted against it Tuesday night.

“I’ve gotten a lot of comments on this, and talked with Ray (Gosack) several times. I’ve also requested from Jeff (Dingman) a copy of the ordinance, and after these considerations, I do feel like we have a sufficient ordinance in place concerning what citizens are supposed to do (with containers) in the alley,” Weber said.

Weber was joined by Directors Tyler, George Catsavis, and Philip Merry, in support of upholding the current ordinance.

Directors Andre Good, Hutchings and Settle opposed.

The board also announced that Wednesday (May 16) would see arrival of the Bass Reeves statue in Ross Pendergraft Park in downtown Fort Smith. The public was invited to watch as the statue arrives at approximately 3 p.m., with in the weeks ahead.

Finally, after Executive Session, the board issued the following appointments: James E. Kelly and Jan Nordin to the Airport Commission; Barbara Williams and Ronnie Rogers to the Fort Smith Municipal Employees Benevolent Fund Board of Advisors; Fran Hall and Cinda Rusin to the Community Development Advisory Commission; and Dustin Perceful and Treopia Jordan to the Transit Advisory Commission.

The board’s next study session will take place on May 29.