Kathy Wells, a downtown neighborhood activist, reports that a compromise that preserves the Capitol Zoning District Commission
was cleared in the Joint Budget Committee this morning. She writes:
The Joint Budget Committee of the General Assembly this morning approved an amendment to the budget of Capitol Zoning District Commission providing that applicants may appeal a denial from the Commission upward to the Heritage Department director.
The agency budget was then voted a DO Pass recommendation.
Both actions came on a voice vote of the committee; the Yes votes were clearly in the large majority.
Boyd Maher, agency director, told Committee members before the vote that CZDC did not oppose this amendment. No others spoke; six supporters stood in support of Maher and the agency at the time the issue came up for action.
This amendment failed last week. It was developed by Little Rock legislators opposed to efforts by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson and Rep. Nate Bell to abolish the agency and turns its supervision of the Capitol and Governor's Mansion neighborhoods back to the city. Some people have complained about the agency's rules, which aim at preserving the historic character of the area. The city didn't want the responsibility back.
Under the amendment, the director (currently Stacy Hurst) can overturn only "clearly erroneous" decisions. Circuit Court appeals remain a further avenue.