The developers of the aloft Hotel have decided to bypass the city Board of Adjustment in seeking a height variance for their proposed seven-story building on Clinton Avenue and will instead seek a rezoning directly from the city Planning Commission.
McKibbon's request to rezone the property at 421 President Clinton Ave. from UU (urban use) to PCD (planned commercial development) will be heard Nov. 17. The PCD would package all the variances developers desire.
The aloft design exceeds the River Market District's design overlay limit by three stories. Architects have made some concessions from the original design, among them creating a notched step-down from seven stories to four on the northwest corner of the building and two step-downs to three stories on south side, which faces the Cox Creative Center. The new design also allows for a wider alley.
Central Arkansas Library Director Bobby Roberts said he appreciated the alterations but still thinks the proposed building — which will have library property on its west and south sides — is too tall for the district. However, Roberts said he'll ask with the CALS board of directors Thursday, Oct. 23, whether it wants to formally oppose the variance.
Lawmaker's bake sale
A source has provided The Insider with a complaint filed Friday with the state Ethics Commission over campaign financial practices of Republican state Rep. Ed Garner of Maumelle, who is unopposed this year. He's been pushing a lot of business — financed by his campaign treasury — to his private business, Mama's Manna bakery.
For example, Republican legislative candidate Jane English of North Little Rock reported an “in-kind” donation of a cake to her campaign on July 17 from Mama's Manna. It was valued at $537.75. Garner's campaign reported it had paid Mama's Manna $737.75 for a “catered event and phone bill” on July 21. He has cut additional campaign treasury checks to Mama's Manna totaling $5,539 for various other causes, including a charity and Young Republicans.
The rub: Legislators are prohibited from profiting personally from campaign money. It is also considered an improper personal benefit to contribute campaign money or “in-kind” goods bought with campaign money to another campaign. Graham Sloan, director of the Ethics Commission, says there's one exception. Candidates may purchase tickets to another candidate's fund-raiser if they can explain how it benefits their own campaign.
Garner denied any wrongdoing. “What we've done is instead of giving the money for a ticket we purchased food from the bakery.” He wouldn't answer other questions, including whether he scored a profit on the bakery sales.
Plus four at Law School
Four more candidates have applied for the position of dean of the William H. Bowen School of Law of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, bringing the total to 16.
Applicants not reported previously are Pulaski Circuit Judge Ellen Brantley of Little Rock; Mark Bieter, a Washington, D.C., lawyer; Polly Price, the associate dean and professor at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta; and Michael J. Kelly, professor at Creighton University School of Law in Omaha.