City Council's E-scooter vote fails (for now), 2 more food truck permits approved for Magnoliaby J.D. Bailey on 07/26/22
The Magnolia City Council discussed a variety of topics on Monday and approved motions on multiple local issues. These issues included the following:
E-SCOOTER VOTE DELAYED
A vote to allow an electronic scooter company to operate in Magnolia died on the floor Monday after no member of the Magnolia City Council issued a second nomination on a proposed agreement.
The delay occurred after Alderman Steve Nipper wished to review further the potential memorandum of understanding (MOU) between The City of Magnolia and Bird Rides, Inc., a California-based e-scooter provider that wishes to do business in Magnolia.
The agreement was first proposed in June before the Magnolia City Council, but the position of Magnolia City Attorney was in flux, as Jennifer Jameson McKendree had just been appointed and had not yet had a chance to revise any language in the contract that the Council wished to see.
Magnolia Economic Development Director Ellie Baker was on hand Monday to flesh out a few more details on the e-scooter matter that were not answered in June.
The city official stated that the Magnolia government would be under no liability if anyone under 18 was caught riding the devices and that the company can designate certain areas in town off limits, if so desired, by using GPS technology.
“Let’s just say that, during the Blossom Festival, if we don’t want scooters riding in the crowd, we can disallow the scooters from going into that part of town,” Baker said.
With internal GPS, according to the city official, Bird Rides could program the scooters to slow down and stop before they entered the off-limits area.
As for scooter laws, the same rules apply to the devices as local bicycles. According to McKendree, the city’s only current cycling law states that the devices cannot be ridden on sidewalks.
Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann on Monday said he worried about kids in Magnolia abusing the scooters, but that he was willing to give the company a try since, according to the MOU, either party -- the city or Bird Rides -- can exit the contract within 30 days notice.
Nipper had hesitations on the matter after discussing a similar project with Southern Arkansas University officials.
“Two or three years ago, they did a study on scooters on campus, and they declined them due to the liability,” he said. “Then they went with the bicycles, and those didn’t work, either.”
Nipper also said that he had spoken with business owners in El Dorado, and they did not like the devices being left in front of their shops, and added that mostly 12- to 14-year-olds were riding them.
Baker, in support of the scooters, stated that the devices could serve as a form of public transportation since Magnolia currently does not have that infrastructure.
Even though the motion died before a vote on Monday, it does not mean that the issue will not come up again before the Magnolia City Council. Vann stated Monday that he planned to place the matter on the August agenda for the Council.
TWO FOOD TRUCK PERMITS ADDED
The Magnolia City Council on Monday unanimously approved the addition of two more mobile food vendor permits within the city limits. The move now brings the total number of permits in the city to eight. As of Monday, six permits were filled.
Mobile food vendor permits in Magnolia operate on a first-come, first-serve basis and must be renewed every three months.
In June, one additional permit was added, but the Council held off on adding any more until this week.
Monday’s amendment to the local food truck ordinance also added additional provisions that called for mobile vendor areas to maintain cleanliness of operatio, and that anyone caught operating a food truck within the city limits without a permit can now be fined up to $350 per day and refusal of any future permits.
Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann on Monday stated that a property on Main Street has become available and hopes the city can create a food truck park where all permitted vendors will be based in the future. He noted, however, that the plan is still in the developmental stages.
In other Magnolia city news:
- The Magnolia City Council unanimously reappointed Monty Harrington to the Magnolia Housing Authority Board of Directors, while also appointing Donnarae Powell as a new member. Their terms will last until July 2027 and July 2026, respectively.
- Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann stated that city residents need to begin moving their local trash bins out of the street after pickups. The city official also stated that overgrown grass fines will begin again soon for property owners within the city.
“It’s time we get yards mowed,” he said. “It has stopped raining and we’re going to start writing tickets.”
The mayor also noted that littering tickets will begin being written by Magnolia Police if anyone is caught breaking the state litter laws. The fine is $250, and the violations include cigarette butts.