January 20, 2016 Edition

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NE 4th property rezoned,
citizens voice concerns

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge City Council voted to rezone property at Northeast Fourth and Poplar from R-1 to R-2 at Monday night's meeting.

The property, which is planned to be used as the site for a duplex, had previously come before the council to be rezoned to R-3 and have a quadplex built on it. The motion for that rezoning died for lack of second largely due to citizens' concerns about the rezoning.

Again, a couple of residents who own homes near the location to be rezoned voiced concerns about losing residential area meant for family homes to apartments.

Gary Walker, one of the citizens to speak, asked what was to stop other landlords from splitting houses and making them into apartments. He said the increase of apartments would take away from residential areas meant for families.

"Your residential areas are the life's blood of the city," Walker said.

Several aldermen gave reason for supporting the motion. Aldermen Daniel Abbott and Robert Combs both agreed that the rental properties and duplexes already in the city are generally well kept and blend into the surrounding neighborhoods. Alderman Jeff Taylor also added that people have to have a place to live.

The rezoning received unanimous approval from the aldermen present. Allen Smith was absent.

Also at the meeting, the council approved the city's 2016 budget, with various cuts of unnecessary expenses in 2015, Mayor Charles Snapp said that most departments finished the year under budget and all interest-bearing debt was retired.

Charles commended the department heads and budget committee for their work to cut costs and save money for the city.

Included in the budget was a 50-cent raise for many city employees.

In other business, aldermen:

discussed a policy change on setting drainage tiles. Previously residents would buy the tile and the city would help to set it. Snapp recommended residents utilizing local professionals with equipment to do the work instead of work going through the city, which takes longer for the residents and pulls away city employees from other jobs. The council authorized Snapp to develop a set of guidelines for tile placement for the council to review at a future meeting.

authorized the purchase of a fire truck, a 2013 Pierce 2 door Kenworth Pumper Demonstrator, from Emergency Vehicle Specialists and Pierce Manufacturing. The council waived competitive bidding and approved the purchase at $266,242 to be paid off within four years of entering the contract.

approved the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport budget.

Reappointed Vickie Mitchell to the planning commission and Lloyd Clark to the airport commission, both for the 2016-2020 term.

approved the police department to enter into a contract with Baker Electric to purchase a 22kw Generac generator at $6,200.

reviewed the annual organization of the governing body of Walnut Ridge. Notable inclusions was the limiting a citizen's commentary to two minutes at a city council meeting and appointing Combs to remain president pro tempore, one of the people who may act as mayor if he is unavailable or unable to perform duties.

approved the second reading of an ordinance to rename Vulcan Street to Compulast Street.

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