Lau, Lorenz begin Fort Smith Board experience

story and photo by Aric Mitchell
amitchell@thecitywire.com

The Fort Smith Board of Directors welcomed two new additions Thursday night (Jan. 3) in the board's first regular meeting of 2013.

Director Keith Lau took over for departing director Steve Tyler in the Ward 1 seat while Director Mike Lorenz stepped in for Don Hutchings in the Ward 3 seat.

Directors George Catsavis and Andre Good also took their second term oaths at the meeting, which was held at Fort Smith Public Schools Service Center.

In comments to The City Wire after the regular and town hall meetings, Lorenz said a priority for his first term would be to "bring a different approach."

"I haven't been involved in politics before," Lorenz said. "I just want to bring my business and finance skills in to play. I didn't get to do much of that tonight, but I'm really excited to get started and get everybody together."

Lorenz will draw on his experience as a former City Planning Commissioner to "ease the process" on developers, he said, adding that "even seasoned builders and contractors – sometimes they had trouble making their way through the process for getting something approved (in Fort Smith) and there were a lot of times I'd see things come to the Planning Commission that really weren't ready yet because something had been missed in the process, and that's disappointing because you don't want to hold something up because of a small technicality."

"So hopefully we can eliminate some of those and assist a little better in getting things through instead of assuming everybody knows the full process," Lorenz added.

Lau said he had no plans to bring anything before the board in January, but admitted he "would love to see what we could do as a city to get the channelization of the Arkansas River to 12 feet."

"There's also the issue about the billboards and the ordinances and the moratorium that we have there through April," Lau said. "I'd like to get the Chamber of Commerce involved in that. I don't want to do that just as this group. I want to get stakeholder input from all the people who have businesses that rely on that kind of advertising. We need their input, and I'm going to actively solicit that."

Lau’s moratorium statement refers back to a temporary moratorium on the receipt and consideration of applications for new or modified billboard advertising. The hiatus, recommended by the city’s Development Services Director Wally Bailey and approved by the board at the Dec. 18 meeting, will expire on April 19, 2013.

Thursday’s light agenda included only two ordinances; one an amendment to the city's Master Land Use Plan and another to amend the Unified Development Ordinance in order to allow for changes in land restrictions for sexually oriented businesses that were made in November 2012. At that time the board voted to move available land use for sexually oriented businesses to 4% from 1.4%.

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Both ordinances were approved unanimously.

Following executive session, the board reappointed Director Kevin Settle to the position of vice-mayor and tapped Good for the Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion (A&P) Commission post vacated by Hutchings. 

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Comments

A little less talk and a lot more action!

Out with the old, in with the new....up front only. Thanks all of them (up there) for trying! Perhaps if the group as a whole would listen closer to what the 98% of us aren't saying rather than the 2% who live eat and breathe getting what they want here and all too often find a way to get one of their tremendous time wasters slipped in somehow. It's way too late to start this in 1975 but the time's just right to start it now! The first test of the new board is shaping up to be billboards and silly me I can't find the new and disastrous problem in Ft Smith on my own. Hopefully the discovery process will now involve more than someone out in the 2% has again regurgitated an idea.
Out with the old, in with the new....up front only. Thanks all of them (up there) for trying! Perhaps if the group as a whole would listen closer to what the 98% of us aren't saying rather than the 2% who live eat and breathe getting what they want here and all too often find a way to get one of their tremendous time wasters slipped in somehow. It's way too late to start this in 1975 but the time's just right to start it now! The first test of the new board is shaping up to be billboards and silly me I can't find the new and disastrous problem in Ft Smith on my own. Hopefully the discovery process will now involve more than someone out in the 2% has again ...>> Read the entire comment.

but if you listened closely

you would have picked up (by the usual two) the "we've got to do something...quickly" whipsaw regarding a homeless shelter.

The usual two?

I'm not sure if you are saying the new directors are already that or what. I'm also not sure if what they said was good or bad. Two things I know I will never do...1. Ask for something at a city council meeting that mainly bothers me. 2. Go to church on Sunday night and ask for a hair dryer. Some people will do both.

Danny Davis Died on Christmas Eve

I was hoping you would report on the "Town Hall" with it being reported that a homeless man, Danny Davis froze to death by a dumpster on Christmas Eve. Jimmie Miller, Pastor of the Hope at Riverfront Church which meets at the pavilion was asking the board if there was anything they could do for the homeless on these bitterly cold nights. He was suggesting adding garage doors to the pavilion that could keep out the cold in winter and heat in summer. These people have church 3 times a week and at night. They are sitting out in below freezing weather. I pray that the city directors will take his plea seriously and work toward helping the church and also come up with a warming station for the homeless. Thank you Mr. Miller for bringing this to the attention of the Board of Directors.
I was hoping you would report on the "Town Hall" with it being reported that a homeless man, Danny Davis froze to death by a dumpster on Christmas Eve. Jimmie Miller, Pastor of the Hope at Riverfront Church which meets at the pavilion was asking the board if there was anything they could do for the homeless on these bitterly cold nights. He was suggesting adding garage doors to the pavilion that could keep out the cold in winter and heat in summer. These people have church 3 times a week and at night. They are sitting out in below freezing weather. I pray that the city directors will take his plea seriously and work toward helping the church and also come up ...>> Read the entire comment.

it's a new year

Ms. Gilmore, I understand that you work with the homeless and their pets and I consider that admirable. However, your call for the city directors to do something is misplaced. While they are reported to have called this "unacceptable" and said they want swift action, what they didn't do was turn to the City Administrator, as a unified board, and direct him to visit with the appropriate city department directors and the Old Fort Coaltion to discuss, and then present to them, a recommended solution. If the mistakes of 2012 are repeated, we will have directors acting independently, coming up with a hasty idea, secretly building alliances. and then once they have four votes, spring their idea on the other three. This has got to change and that change begins with permitting the City Administrator to do his job and allowing the input of community and city-employed experts. It is my hope the Mr. Davis did not die in vain, but it is my greater hope that the mistakes of last year are not repeated.
Ms. Gilmore, I understand that you work with the homeless and their pets and I consider that admirable. However, your call for the city directors to do something is misplaced. While they are reported to have called this "unacceptable" and said they want swift action, what they didn't do was turn to the City Administrator, as a unified board, and direct him to visit with the appropriate city department directors and the Old Fort Coaltion to discuss, and then present to them, a recommended solution. If the mistakes of 2012 are repeated, we will have directors acting independently, coming up with a hasty idea, secretly building alliances. and then once they ...>> Read the entire comment.

"Pastor" Jimme Miller lied

Turns out that not only did Miller's posterchild not freeze to death, but he died miles away in a motel room. Grandstanding with obviously false information kills a person's credibility. But you already have experienced that, haven't you, Ms Gilmore?