October 16, 2013 Edition

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WR Council approves
rezoning ordinance

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge City Council approved a rezoning ordinance, passed a resolution to authorize the fire department to apply for a GIF Grant and renewed the Firemen's Pension Fund Annual Millage ordinance at their meeting on Oct. 8. They also heard an update on the city's 2008 helicopter/airplane exchange.

Planning Commission Chairman Charles Snapp informed the council that the commission held a public hearing on Sept. 26, posted its intention of rezoning property at 3219 Highway 67B from R1 to C3 in The Times Dispatch and placed a sign in front of the property notifying the public of the proposed rezoning. The property being rezoned will be used for an existing animal clinic wishing to expand.

" Gateway Animal Clinic wants to add a small animal boarding kennel and have room for five large animals at a time," Snapp said. "During the public meeting, we received no opposition to this proposal."

Mayor Don House said his office had received no calls opposing the rezoning, and the council voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance. The rules were suspended, an emergency declared, and the ordinance became effective immediately.

Other members of the City Planning Commission are C.L. Clark, Billie Gail Dunlap, Jesse Pulliam and Vicki Mitchell.

An update on the 2008 helicopter/airplane exchange was given at the request of Alderman Ed Lawson.

City Attorney Adam Weeks told the council that he met with Janet Miles on July 18 and gave her a bill of sale for the helicopter the city traded her late husband for a 1964 Piper Cub airplane in 2008. The bill of sale transferred ownership of the helicopter to Miles Flying Service as agreed and voted on by the council several months ago.

"Mrs. Miles has been trying diligently to acquire a title to the airplane for us, but has been unsuccessful thus far," Weeks said. "The plane is registered to Silver Air Inc. in Delaware, a company that has apparently gone out of business. She gave me a signed bill of sale for the plane, and I am hopeful that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will accept that as a title transfer."

Miles apparently sold the helicopter to a man in Texas after she received the bill of sale and transferred the document directly to him. The bill of sale still had the City of Walnut Ridge listed as the seller and was signed by Mayor Don House because a new title listing Miles Flying Service had not yet been issued. The document had raised questions among citizens and some of the councilmen.

Alderman Lawson thanked the mayor and the city attorney for the update and said he had asked for it because he has received several questions from citizens regarding the issue. "I just want us to put this to rest," Lawson said.

Councilmen approved a resolution authorizing the Walnut Ridge Fire Department to apply for a General Improvement Fund Grant in the amount of $25,000. If approved, the state funds would be used to concrete aprons at the fire station on Highway 67B.

"It's a 100 percent grant if we get it," Mayor House said. "We may get the grant in full or only a part of it; we'll just have to wait and see."

The council also voted to renew the Firemen's Pension Fund annual millage. This is done on a yearly basis and causes no increase in citizens' taxes. It is in place to insure the Walnut Ridge Firemen's Pension does not become depleted and to protect the rights of future retirees.

"We are grateful and privileged to have our fire department," said Mayor House. "Not many cities our size have a fire department program as good as the one we have, and I am thankful to Chief Frank Owens and all our firemen for the fine work they do."

The council also discussed a building on West Elm Street adjacent to the Department of Workforce Service. The mayor, fire department, police department and the code enforcement officer have received a letter of complaint from DWS in Little Rock about the danger the vacant building, which is owned by J.R. Rogers, poses to their business and employees.

"This is a serious matter that we need to address as quickly as possible," Mayor House said. "We would like to work out something between the state and the property owner to try and get this resolved. It puts us in danger of losing a business here. For now, we have put up barricades to protect people from possible falling bricks, and will try to get a response from the property owner before our next meeting. We also need to get the fire department to look at it again by then."

House added that he feels the building needs to be torn down but that it would be an expensive undertaking for the owner.

In other business the council:

  • passed a resolution that will allow the city to purchase three police cars for a total of $51,000 as agreed upon at a special meeting on Sept. 30.

  • approved a list of Walnut Ridge Regional Airport assets inventory as required by the city's auditors. Alderman Jeff Taylor advised that he would like to see the assets in person before agreeing to approve the list as opposed to having to take the commission's word on airport assets. He was informed of the time and place of airport commissioners' meetings so he may attend in the future if he so chooses.

  • heard from Alderman Anthony Pinkston, budget committee chairman, that the budget looks good so far this year; and Alderman Wendell Jones encouraged city department heads to begin looking at their budgets to see if they may need any changes made for next year. "We are going to need a new fire truck next year," Jones said. "It may be late 2014 or early 2015 before we make that purchase."

  • was informed that the city's fall cleanup is scheduled for Oct. 14-26.

  • learned that the annual Christmas Parade will be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 3, the first Tuesday in December. Those wishing to participate in the parade may contact Sue Hilburn at City Hall at 886-6638.

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