April 22, 2015 Edition

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WR to consider setting minimum house size

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

A proposed ordinance restricting house size was brought before the Walnut Ridge City Council at the Monday night meeting. The ordinance, if passed, would prevent citizens from building a living structure smaller than 600 square feet.

This new regulation would be in response to a recent movement to build what people are calling mini or tiny houses. The ordinance states that these types of dwellings are not acceptable in Walnut Ridge for the purpose of code enforcement.

The minimum requirement would exclude all manufactured homes, including trailers, mobile homes, campers and modular homes. However, homes built on site, converted from existing structures or constructed on a trailer platform shall not be permitted if under the square foot requirements unless a conditional use permit is granted.

The ordinance was passed on the first of three readings with Jeff Taylor being the only alderman present opposed. He said this was a very new movement and he thought more research needed to be done before approving any laws.

The ordinance would not take effect until after the third reading is approved. Until then, adjustments can be made to the law, including penalties, which were recommended by the council to be a $500 fine if structure is not removed within 30 days.

A moratorium on permits for homes that would qualify as mini houses was approved until the ordinance is passed or other action is taken. Existing homes under the minimum square~footage requirement would be grandfathered in upon the passing of this ordinance.

In other business, the council approved a contract with Vector Disease Control, Inc. for mosquito control. Mosquito committee chair Dan Mullen said the company comes very highly recommended.

In addition to ground and air spraying, Vector monitors mosquito species and population with a series of traps. They then use that information to adjust the chemicals they use to be most effective. They also test for diseases and present everything in a monthly report to the city.

Mayor Charles Snapp said, "They are not going to get rid of all of the mosquitoes, but between what we’re doing and what they will do, it will be a big step forward for the city."

Vector will hire local employees to help with the Walnut Ridge operation.

Also at the meeting:

  • Snapp informed the council of upcoming repair costs associated with a failing traffic light sensor at the intersection of Hwy. 91 and Hwy. 63. He also said there might be some additional budgetary needs to do necessary repairs associated with drainage throughout the city.

  • the council passed the new city tree ordinance on its third and final reading. The new ordinance better defines what a tree is, as well as regulations associated with trees within the city.

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