Jun 192015

by Clay Herrmann (501-620-3176)
Principal Broker – Herrmann Realty
Clay Herrmann 277x280
(Sorry about being so lengthy, but I want to deprive you of being able to claim you were not provided enough information.)

Garland County land owners, Realtors® with the Hot Springs and Hot Springs Village Boards of Realtors®, title company abstractors & closing agents, and personnel in the Circuit Clerk’s office where deeds are recorded will want to know about this:

Very shortly, on June 22, 2015 the Public Health, Welfare & Safety Committee of the Garland County Quorum Court (the County Legislature) is scheduled to once again take up consideration of a “Garland County Subdivision and Development Ordinance” at the behest of the County Judge (but this time there are two alternative versions … if the JPs think the 37 page long version is too much too soon, then they have the option to approve the shorter 15 page version for now, with the option to edit and add more provisions to it later).

Every parcel of land in Garland County is a “subdivision” of a larger mass of land … of the State … of the Nation … of the planet Earth.

And many of you didn’t think you lived in a “subdivision” or that the proposed new county legislation need concern you, did you!!!?

Furthermore, if you should split off a portion of your land to deed to another party, you will have become a subdivision “Developer”, and the proposed brand-spanking new Garland County Subdivision and Development Ordinance will apply to YOU!

And if the proposed Ordinance is made law, potentially as early as July of 2015 by a vote of the majority of Garland County’s thirteen Justices of the Peace (the County Legislators presided over by the County Judge) then you will be forbidden to perform the above described act without jumping through all the mandated hoops and securing the signature of the County Judge to sell a portion of your land. Per either version of the ordinance, failure to secure the Judge’s permission before selling or otherwise conveying a portion of your parcel of land will be a punishable crime.

Under these proposals, your Constitutional property rights and your liberty as a citizen in Garland County will be greatly diminished. Property owners will be burdened with expanding regulations and intrusive prohibitions about what they can do with their property, increased taxes/fees will be needed to pay for administering BIGGER GOVERNMENT, real estate transactions will be delayed and/or prohibited, the County Judge will have greatly increased authority, and Garland County citizens will have to cope with more unpleasant red tape. 

If you are against the government diminishing your property rights, and against the government burdening you with new regulations, taxes and/or fees, and against new costly requirements that must be met at your expense before the County Judge will sign off on you being allowed to sell your own land, then you might be acting wisely to as soon as possible and before it becomes law, let YOUR JP and the County Judge and the newspapers, radio stations, your Realtor, and your neighbors know how you feel.

The June 22, 2015 meeting of the Health Welfare & Safety Committee of the Garland County Quorum Court is scheduled for live-streaming. To view the live-stream at 5:00 PM on the 22nd go to the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-8dVmguwN8.

To our knowledge Garland County Government has not yet made the proposed legislation that is scheduled to be taken up in just a few days by the Health Welfare, and Safety Committee of the Garland County Legislature available to the public on the official county website … or anywhere else. You may, however, read the full text of both the 37 page version and a 15 page “Short Version” of the “GARLAND COUNTY SUBDIVISION & DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE” at the end of this article.

By way of background on the legislation under consideration, on May 11, 2011 County Judge Rick Davis added his voice to those of numerous other Garland County citizens, who after a lengthy delaying process by city officials were finally able to address the directors at an official BOD meeting asking them to rescind the City’s claimed Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). But in addition to asking the Directors to vote for rescinding the ETJ and cease from claiming a right to govern outside the city limits, Judge Davis assured the City Directors that he fully intended to get county legislation passed that would alleviate some of the issues that city officials claimed concerned them outside the city limits.

Shortly after the failed vote to rescind the ETJ, Judge Davis, nevertheless followed through on his stated intent and formed a committee that had meetings with and that worked jointly with the Hot Springs Planning Department in an effort to draft legislation that would impose laws, rules, and regulations in the unincorporated parts of Garland County of a scope that might satisfy city officials, and that, it was hoped, would also have a chance of passage by the County Legislature (13 Justices of the Peace presided over by the County Judge).

After several months of that collaborative process, the following draft Memorandum of Agreement was prepared, according to outgoing City Manager Lance Hudnell and City Attorney Brian Albright at the request of Judge Davis. Click the link (May 25, 2012 draft of Planning Area Agreement with City of Hot Springs – requested by Judge Davisfor a PDF of all 4 pages of the instrument. See the following excerpt:

In 2012 this approach the County Judge and City Officials was not agreeable to some JP’s. But in September of 2014, Judge Davis was ready attack the issue again, this time with a marked up draft of Garland County Subdivision & Development Ordinance, that at least initially did not call forthe City Plannig Department to administer countywide compliance. The very same longer version of the current proposal was emailed to JP’s at that time with the following attached note:

On Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10:54 AM, Mary Culpepper <mary@garlandcounty.org> wrote:
I am forwarding Mr. Matthews revised Subdivision Code for your review.  This was previously approved by both the Public Health, Welfare & Safety Committee and the Public Works & Buildings Committee, with the amendments that Mr. Matthews has now revised.  The County Attorney is receiving this email as well so he can review and report any necessary changes.  This will not return to a committee but will be voted on during the October 14th, 2013 Quorum Court meeting.
Judge Davis told me to remind you that even though you pass this document now, it is still a “living” document in that it may require amendments.  Any necessary amendments can be completed as they become necessary.
Let us know if you need anything further or if you have questions before the meeting.
Judge Davis/mary
Mary Culpepper
Chief of Staff
Garland County Judges Office
From: Keith Matthews [mailto:keithm@bnfeng.com] Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013  3:39 PM To: mary@garlandcounty.orgrdavis@garlandcounty.org Subject: Subdivision Code Revised
Attached is the revised Subdivision Code. There are a couple of items highlighted for legal review.
Keith Matthews, PE Vice President Senior Professional Engineer B & F ENGINEERING,
INC. Since 1972 928 Airport Road Hot Springs, Arkansas 71913 p. 501.767.2366 I f.

The ordinance was, however, withdrawn from the October 2014 Quorum Court Court Agenda. Now in June of 2014 it has come back, along with a shorter option giving the County Legislators an “either/or choice” that might work to “close the sale”, rather than offering a single legislative product for the JPs to approve or reject. The “either/or close”  is much employed in sales … because it is often successful (e.g. “I think I like the smaller one better. OK then, let’s take a vote …”).

Garland County Realtors as well as county real property owners who may be concerned about how a new Subdivision and Development ordinance proposed by Judge Rick Davis will affect their property rights may be well advised to attend the June 22 meeting of the Quorum Courts Public Health, Welfare & Safety Committee.

My Justice of the Peace (JP 13) Larry Raney has confirmed that the Quorum Court’s Public Health, Welfare & Safety Committee (PHS&W) is scheduled to review both a 37 page version and a shorter 15 page version at their June meeting. If the committee should forward a “Do Pass” recommendation of one of the draft ordinances they have been instructed to consider, or an amended version of either to the full Quorum Court (County Legislature),  it could potentially become law by a majority vote of the 13 JP’s early as July 13th, 2015 at the next regular session of the full Quorum Court (County Legislature).



As an alternative to more and more regulation, taxes/fees, and bigger government to address the County Judge’s concerns about real estate matters, a liberty-friendly and limited-government approach to addressing real estate concerns is THE PROVISION OF IMPORTANT REAL ESTATE RELATED INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC,  THE TWO GARLAND COUNTY BOARDS REALTORS, THE TWO GARLAND COUNTY CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE, AND TITLE COMPANIES by means of a digital brochure kept readily available and promptly updated as necessary on the official Garland County website, and additionally by publication of a paper version of the brochure by the County Judge’s Office for distribution to the appropriate county offices, the Garland County Boards of Realtors, Garland County title companies, and the Greater Hot Springs and Hot Springs Village Area Chambers of Commerce.

 The following are a few excerpts from the 15 page “Short Version” presumably offered as a comparatively easier to swallow/easier to sell alternative to the
more comprehensive 37 page proposed ordinance:



County Judge permission

applies to

planning committee-plat




application specs


Other topics addressed in the “Short Version” include public road access requirement, criteria for private road exceptions, sidewalks, curbs & gutters, minimum lot size, lot design,  setbacks, survey monument requirements, etc..

You may note in Don Thomason’s June 6, 2015 piece below about this subject in the Sentinel-Record, that ‘once a final draft has been achieved public hearings will be held “so people will know what is going on”‘. Concerned citizens will no doubt prefer opportunity to be heard on this issue BEFORE a “final draft is achieved, and will want public hearings to be much more than the standing invitation to attend the Quorum Court Committee meetings and the full QC monthly meeting immediately prior to the vote. PUBLIC HEARINGS should NOT be after-the-fact meetings for the purpose of telling the public that major new legislation has just been passed and that their compliance is now required.

County to look at proposed subdivision ordinance - crop


Justices of the Peace

If you don’t know which JP District your are in you can find out by referencing the Hot Springs JP Districts Map or the Garland County JP Districts Map.

Justice of the Peace District #01 David Reagan 501-538-8283 138 Circle Drive
Hot Springs, AR 71913
Justice of the Peace District #02 Thomas Anderson 501-321-9350 215 Palmetto Street
Hot Springs, AR 71901
Justice of the Peace District #03 Denise Marion 501-655-3130 110 Woodberry Street
Hot Springs, AR 71913
Justice of the Peace District #04 Mary Bournival 501-655-1827 113 Foxwood Street
Hot Springs, AR 71913
Justice of the Peace District #05 Rebecca Arguello 501-627-5242 105 Elice Circle
Hot Springs, AR 71913
Justice of the Peace District #06 Ray Owen, Jr. 501-624-4244 209 Hobson Avenue
Hot Springs, AR 71913
Justice of the Peace District #07 John Faulkner 501-802-1967 585 Amity Road
Hot Springs, AR 71913
Justice of the Peace District #08 Ellen Varhalla 501-276-2694 113 Kathy Lane
Hot Springs,AR 71913
Justice of the Peace District #09 Matt McKee 501-622-0860 655 Marion Anderson
Hot Springs, AR 71913
Justice of the Peace District #10 Drew Hudgens 501-463-3500 198 River Oaks Drive
Hot Springs, AR 71913
Justice of the Peace District #11 Larry Griffin 501-915-8285 1 Durango Way
Hot Springs Village, AR 71909
Justice of the Peace District #12 Darryl Mahoney 501-844-7692 1115 Walnut Valley Road
Hot Springs, AR 71909
Justice of the Peace District #13 Larry Raney 501-545-8412 4131 Spring Street
Hot Springs, AR 71901

2015-2016 QC Commitees

SD Ordinance (click to view full text of 37 page version)

SD Ordinance – short (click to view full text of 15 page version)

Visit www.garlandcounty.info for continuing coverage of this issue.


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