February 29, 2012 Edition

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WR Council addresses
tree, building issues

Mayor Don House (left) and Park Superintendent Charles Spargo discuss city business at the Walnut Ridge City Council meeting in the courtroom of the police department's new building on Feb. 21. TD Photo ~ Gloria Wilkerson
Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

A change in the city's Tree Ordinance was approved and plans to assist Larry Corbett with drainage and traffic problems around the building he owns on Main Street were among the topics discussed at the Walnut Ridge City Council meeting on Feb. 21.

The council modified the city's existing tree ordinance by adding a $15 permit fee for commercial tree services.

Any person who performs work on trees for profit must obtain a permit from the city and provide at the time of application a certificate of insurance for general liabilities, workman's compensation and other coverage's required by law. Work on trees includes all cutting, trimming, pruning and/or removal of trees within the city.

"This will help protect our citizens and our town. Some commercial tree services come in, cut down trees, and then leave the branches and debris for the property owners to dispose of," Mayor Don House said. "This only applies to commercial tree services, those who do this type of work for pay. Our citizens can cut down trees on their own property without a permit."

The old Van Atkins building on Main Street is now owned by Larry Corbett and is currently used as the Republican Headquarters in Lawrence County and for other purposes. Traffic has caused Corbett major problems - the building has been struck by vehicles three times since he has owned it, causing extensive damage.

"I would like to put up barriers in front of the building, on the corner and at the back on the alleyway side," Corbett said. "I would also like to place a drain in the alley on the east side to keep water out of the building."

The city agreed to clean out trenches and assist with the drain.

"That will help the whole block with drainage," said Alderman Wendell Jones.

The council also agreed to the installation of metal railing along the side of the building that will serve as a deterrent to further damage from vehicles.

Barriers Corbett wants placed at the front of the building and on the corner were not agreed upon, and further discussion was tabled until next month. The council will visit the building and see for themselves where the barriers would be placed and whether or not they would have a negative effect on the appearance of Main Street.

Alderwoman Paula Haskins reminded the council that the city has a problem with its cat population.

"I have had lots of calls complaining about cats," she said. "They are everywhere, spraying and leaving feces all over town. People feed them to keep them from starving, but they don't want to take responsibility for these stray cats."

Haskins suggested the council look into the possibility of joining Five Rivers Animal Aid Inc. in Randolph County. The city's animal control officer will meet with representatives from the non-profit organization, which takes in animals, spay and neuter cats and dogs and find families to adopt them. They are financed by their membership, and the council will receive a report about the organization and the cost of membership at their next meeting.

Alderman Jones added that Little Rock has a cat policy that requires cat be licensed for a small fee. He suggested the council look into an ordinance like that for Walnut Ridge.

In other business the council:

  • agreed to sell the city's airplane as-is, where-is. The plane needs work which would be expensive, according to Alderman Michael "Button" Wallin, and the twin-engine market is depressed right now because of the price of fuel. Problems with the title to the plane have been dealt with.

  • learned that the city's four on-going sewer projects are progressing rapidly and should be completed by May. The projects will finish extending service to practically every home and business in the city, including the four houses on Luther Bridges Road.

  • were informed that the possible annexation of College City is proceeding well. Talks with College City leaders have been positive thus far. Also, annexation work on properties north of Midway Road that has previously been under county jurisdiction has gone smoothly.

  • was told that a meeting was held on Feb. 14 with the East Arkansas Planning and Development District in Jonesboro, Arkansas Parks and Tourism, a sports complex engineer from Little Rock and a study panel from Arkansas State University to discuss merits of either doing a repair-type approach on the city's existing facilities or building a regional competition complex. The state and the engineer will return with proposed drawings in the near future.

  • learned that Midway Road will be paved as soon as contractors say conditions are favorable for paving. Meanwhile, the city will try to keep it patched as weather permits.

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