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The planning commission looked at a proposed expansion for the Bella Vista Public Library and heard the announcement of a new Community Development Services director during its Thursday, May 24 work session.

Associate planner Sarah Bingham announced the new director, Kevin Gambrill, will start with the city June 1.

Mayor Peter Christie said Gambrill has a master's degree in urban planning and 18 years' experience, most recently as planning director with the Benton County Development Department, where he has worked the past six years.

"We looked long and hard but we got it," he said.

The commission also discussed a large-scale development for a proposed expansion for the Bella Vista Public Library. Under this proposal, the library will see a 6,400-square-foot addition built on the south end of the property, with an exterior entrance to allow patrons to enter and exit the addition without going through existing portions of the library.

City staff recommended approval with conditions, of which Bingham said some have already been addressed. The expansion will require two minor setback variances, as well, according to the staff report.

Commission member Steven Bourke asked if there was any reason to be concerned about drainage damaging the nearby Back 40 trails.

Commission member Doug Farner said that, because the property drains to the south and the trails sit to the west, this should not be a concern.

Chairman Daniel Ellis said he was unsure if the library should retain R1 residential zoning.

"Should they be rezoning their property so that they are conforming to our zoning code?" he asked.

Bingham said that currently, the library is a legal nonconforming use and, while the property may rezone at some point, it is not necessary for a similar or less intense use.

Christian McGuire, representing Fayetteville-based engineering firm Bates and Associates, which is working with the library on this project, said he prepared the drainage report and could address other questions.

Commission member Shawki Al-Madhoun said he was concerned with the suggestion of a six-inch drain pipe. City ordinance currently requires an 18-inch pipe.

"Six inches is not something I would rely on," he said.

Ellis said going with a smaller pipe could require a waiver.

McGuire said he did not have a problem using an 18-inch pipe.

The commission will vote on this development during its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m., June 11, in the Bella Vista court facility at 612 W. Lancashire Blvd.

General News on 05/30/2018

Print Headline: Planning commission examines library expansion

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