May 25, 2016 Edition

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Hoxie to purchase land
for commercial development

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Hoxie City Council approved the purchase of four acres to be developed for commercial use at the May 17 meeting.

The property will be visible from the soon to open Highway 67 coming from Newport and will be a prime spot to locate fast food businesses, according to Hoxie Mayor Lanny Tinker.

As recommended by the job stimulus committee, the acreage, located near Cox Powersports, will be purchased from Wilson Schmidt for $150,000 with $30,000 in earnest.

The money will come from $450,000 the city currently holds in reuse funds.

"That money isn't going to do Hoxie any good if we don't get some tax base here," Tinker said, adding that it is his intent to spend every penny of it to bring in sales tax revenue.

Tinker is hopeful the property will yield more than one new business for the city.

Mayor responds

In other business, Tinker gave a formal response to the forming of the Walnut Ridge Economic Impact Committee, which is to focus on what Walnut Ridge should expect were the two cites to consolidate.

Tinker said that he believes that Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp is doing his due diligence. However in response to concerns about the infrastructure of Hoxie, he did explain that Hoxie started the year with $10,000 more than it had in 2011, when he took office.

Financially, the city is better off and should not be considered "broke," according to Tinker. However he said there are some infrastructure issues still needing to be addressed and he awaits what the Walnut Ridge committee determines.

With several property rezonings on the agenda, citizens voiced concerns about breaking up the layout of the city and how specific zoning changes will affect long-term housing and commercial endeavors.

A rezoning that was not voted on due to damages incurred on the sign posted at the property was still discussed at length. Surrounding residents of property located at 1315 Southeast Front vocalized their issues with the proposed rezoning from R1 (low-density residential) to R3 (apartment residential).

Twin City Development put in the request for the rezoning and has plans to use the property for a five-unit apartment building. Bobby Macom with Twin City said an increase in workforce in the area is causing a housing shortage and apartments are the solution.

While those in attendance took no issue with the work Twin City has done or adding apartment housing to Hoxie, they did voice concerns about breaking up one of the good long-term, low-density housing sections of the city.

"The community where I live is a different community base than the apartment community," said Debby Rogers, an 18-year resident of the neighborhood in question.

Terry Howard, another close by resident, said, "We want to stay residential. We don't want the apartments near us." He went on to say that he wasn't against anybody at the meeting, he just wanted the council to know his opinion before it came time to vote.

Linda Howard added that the traffic in the area is already becoming unsafe for children and she's worried about adding additional cars from the apartments.

Tinker said the area was zoned a specific way and originally intended to stay as R1. "These people have a legitimate complaint," he said.

Discussion was tabled and the council will revisit the rezoning when the correct legal requirements are met on the signs posted. Those in attendance provided their contact information about the meeting in order to be notified when the issue would be visited about.

There were also some concerns regarding another Twin City rezoning request. The property, located in the southern part of town along the east line of Front, where Highway 63 and Front intersect, was voted to be rezoned from C1 to R3.

Prior to the vote being taken, Rogers said she wasn't sure about losing the commercial property, which she believed to be more valuable than the property tax that would be gained from the apartments. "That piece of property is visible from the bypass," she said.

While Tinker didn't disagree that sales tax would be more beneficial than property tax, he expressed that there were no buyers for a commercial development in that area while Twin City is prepared to develop immediately.

Also at the meeting:

a vacant position of the council left by Karen Williams, who moved to Walnut Ridge, was filled with aldermen nominated Kerrie Hancock. "I just want to represent the public," Hancock said.

property located along Highway 63 B across from Pratt's Auto Salvage was rezoned from R1 to C1 as requested by Kenny Lewis.

the council approved records to be destroyed from a recent shed clean out.

Fire Chief Chris Ditto informed the council that a Firewise grant for $1,000 has been received and an additional $2,500 is set to come in. The funds are to be used in the department's efforts to combat wildland fires, which include brush fires.

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