I finally got to watch video of Tuesday's agenda session this afternoon, and understood the confusion expressed by Jeremy Pate over the petition that representatives of the Town Branch Neighborhood submitted to the city clerk's office more than a month ago, before we received our officially sanctioned property map of the Town Branch Neighborhood and the official petition with landowner names that was prepared by the planning division about a month ago.
We have barely begun to circulate that official petition, although its existence is a result of the threat of the Washington County Livestock Auction property being rezoned to Downtown General.
The petition we submitted for the council's attention before the September 15 discussion of the proposed rezoning should be interpreted as an opinion poll. We did not set limits on who could sign it and the majority of signatures may be from people outside the affected neighborhood. Many signed because they work and shop in the neighborhood or own businesses in the neighborhood.
And many signed because they are veterans and recognize that the rezoning could allow inappropriate projects next to the National Cemetery and the Oak Cemetery (also dating back to 1867) but all signed because they recognized the inappropriateness of rezoning that parcel for any such purpose. We did NOT take it to every residence in the Town Branch Neighborhood for consideration because we will need the time and energy that could have been spent to circulate the official petition dealing specifically with neighborhood rezoning to neighborhood conservation.
The neighborhood will be submitting the official petition to rezone to neighborhood conservation for presentation through proper channels as soon as we have contacted every property owner and offered each one the opportunity to participate in the process.
Had public comment been the normal procedure during agenda sessions, I would have explained the difference in the two petitions.
No doubt, some property owners will not agree to sign the official petition. But I encountered almost no one unwilling to sign the early petition. We provided it in order to make it clear that a poll of people aware of the situation would reveal the overwhelming unpopularity of allowing multi-story buildings adjacent to the National Cemetery or the predominantly single-family neighborhood.
I apologize for not providing an explanatory note with the petition pages.
Thank you for your patient attention to this subject.
Aubrey James Shepherd
P.O. Box 3159
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72702
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