October 21, 2015 Edition

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Jumpstart Shelter
agreement approved

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge City Council authorized Mayor Charles Snapp to enter into an agreement with Jumpstart to lease the former Gateway Animal Clinic building for use as a new animal shelter.

The Jumpstart Animal Shelter will operate independently of the city under regulations set by the lease agreement. The shelter will also house an animal taken in by animal control for a five-day period in attempts to find its owner before it is entered into the shelter's system and offered for adoption.

During the holding period, attempts to find the animal's owner will be conducted using identification tags on the animal, Facebook and city registration information.

Jumpstart Director Ray Brandon said that Nick Troutman is a full time employee with Jumpstart who will serve as manager of the shelter, which will be operated by community service workers and those going through the program.

Coinciding with the agreement for the animal shelter, the council read a new dog ordinance and passed it on its first reading. The ordinance establishes certain fees and regulations for dog owners in the city limits, as well as identifies a dog owner as anyone who keeps, cares for or feeds a dog.

Snapp said the ordinance will have relatively little impact on responsible dog owners as they are already doing the things required by it.

In other business, the rezoning of property at the northwest corner of Poplar and Fourth streets from R-1 to R-3 came before the council for a second reading.

Roger Swindle, who serves on the planning commission and owns property in the area, said he was unable to attend the meeting where this rezoning was brought before the commission but that he would have been opposed to it.

Swindle said he doesn't agree with the mixing of zones and is worried it will hurt property values. "Do we want to open the door to where everyone can build quadplexes and triplexes in our neighborhoods," he said.

B.J. Hibbard, who is co-owner of the property proposed for rezoning, said the appraisal of property is based on the neighborhood as a whole and the one in question already has several lots zoned R-3. He also added that in order to build more apartments in the city, property will have to be rezoned.

"There is no property zoned R-3 that doesn't have something on it already," Hibbard said.

Alderman Robert Combs said he would personally welcome the apartments in his own neighborhood but he believes the people who live near the property in question should have a say.

Alderman Jeff Taylor made a motion to approve the rezoning, however the motion failed due to lack of a second. Hibbard and co-owner Bobby Macom said the property will most likely stay vacant if not rezoned.

Also at the meeting:

due to the deficits the city would encounter without access to a county jail and the safety concerns that come with transporting those arrested out of county, the council voted to support the county sales tax to fund a new jail. The half-cent sales tax will be put to vote in a special election held Nov. 10. Taylor was the only nay vote on the council, and Alderman Allen Smith abstained from the vote.

the council approved a construction contract to be entered into between the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport Commission and Clark General Contractors, Inc. for sitework, construction, drainage and pavement repairs. The motion passed on a 7-1 vote with Alderman Smith opposed.

the council approved decreasing permit fees associated with remodeling to $10 per square foot for commercial property and $5 per square foot for residential property.

Snapp asked for suggestions on how the city can regulate roadblock fundraisers. Suggestions included only allowing one fundraiser per organization per year and requiring signs displaying the intended benefactor large enough to be seen from vehicles.

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