Jul 282015

by Clay Herrmann

Immediately prior to a presentation to the Public Health, Welfare, and Safety Committee of the Garland County Quorum Court by Clay Herrmann detailing an “INFORMATION VERSION” approach to a County Subdivision and Development Ordinance, Justice Matt McKee expressed a desire, for reasons that he elaborated, to table consideration of ALL versions of the ordinance under consideration until some uncertain future date. The motion was seconded and voted for by the Majority of the Committee members in attendance at the July 27, 2015 meeting.


Asked if he was acting to “table” the presentation of the “Information Version” that Herrmann had prepared and which he was asking the Committee to recommend to the full Quorum Court, the answer was negative. The presentation was allowed but would not be “considered” at the meeting. Because of Justice McKee’s successful motion to “table” there was no chance for immediate approval by the Committee and no anticipated opportunity for the full County Legislative body to approve the ordinance at their next regular monthly meeting in August.

It is worth noting that in regards to the “INFORMATION VERSION” ordinance option, this was a vote in advance, to abstain from considering something which had not yet been formally presented to the Committee, which they had not yet had opportunity to discuss at an official meeting, and that they did not yet understand.

Nevertheless the presentation was made, and following the PowerPoint explanation of the proposal there were questions and some enlightening discussion with the Committee members as well as with other Quorum Court members in attendance, about the unique elements of the “INFORMATION VERSION” option.

It prescribes the disclosing of important information about maintenance of private roads and other important real estate information on the County’s official website. It also prescribes providing a county produced trifold “Buyer Beware” brochure to the Hot Springs and Hot Springs Village Boards of Realtors, local title companies, the two Chambers of Commerce in Garland County, County Offices that deal with real estate matters, & law firms that execute real estate closings.

The sample brochure addresses several topics including private roads, 100-year floodplain, septic systems, surveys, and municipal extra-territorial jurisdictions (ETJ’s) and directs readers to the county website for more detail and the most up-to-date information.

The website includes numerous useful links to maps and other tools and related information. An unofficial functioning demo of what the official website could contain is available at http://garlandcounty.info/buyerbeware.

What the “INFORMATION VERSION’ of the SD Ordinance does not contain is as unusual as what it does. It contains NO NEW REGULATIONS to be imposed on property owners. None.

In addition, the last page of the proposed ordinance provides some procedural protection against future violations of the real estate property rights of Garland County citizens by the county government. It would mandate that prior to voting to amend repeal, or replace this ordinance, legislators would be required to verify that their proposals would not violate the property rights protections that are expressed as forever inviolate in the Declaration of Rights of the Arkansas Constitution. Citations from three sections of the Declaration of Rights of the Arkansas Constitution are included in the ordinance providing easy reference to county legislators contemplating future regulation. Secondly, before voting to enact amendments or new replacement legislation that would in any way affect property rights of Garland County citizens, the press would need to be notified and a public hearing (or hearings as appropriate) would be required to provide advance public awareness of the potential changes and to allow for input from concerned citizens. The proposed “INFORMATION VERSION” of the Garland County Subdivision and Development Ordinance is available at: http://garlandcounty.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ORDINANCE-Information-Version.pdf.

(Sample Tri-Fold “BUYER BEWARE” Brochure is available at: http://garlandcounty.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Buyer-Beware-Important-Disclosures.pdf)

– photos by Jock MacGregor –


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