February 22, 2017 Edition

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Rezoning denied,
store plans halted

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Plans to locate a Dollar Tree along Main Street in Walnut Ridge came to a halt when rezoning of the property site was denied by the city council at Monday's meeting.

The property rezoning, at the corner of Main and Southwest Seventh streets, had already met some opposition from area residents during a public hearing held at the beginning of the month. While a buffer of 80-feet of green space was promised along the south side of the property, residents still had concerns about the store.

Former Alderman Jeff Taylor was among those against the rezoning as he lives on adjacent property. Concerns he brought up included drainage and increased truck traffic.

Alderman Allen Smith said that drainage is one thing that regulations cover very thoroughly and he believed it would be designed in such a way as to not drain into their property.

Additionally, C.L. Clark with Clark General Contractors, who is working on the project, said the loading zone would have been designed in such a way to not disrupt the residential roads.

However, residents said they still expected additional traffic in the area to interfere with their quality of life.

Alderman Robert Combs said he understood the reasoning of those who live nearby and wanted to give them every opportunity to voice their concerns. However, he also added that the property, which is zoned residential, and located right on Main Street was a wasted resource as it is now.

Taylor said he's typically not for going against the comprehensive plan but he understands why the council has to rezone properties, especially when nobody voices opposition. However, he added that public hearings are designed to allow citizens to voice their concerns and if the council doesn't hear them, then there is no reason to have the hearings.

The vote was called with Alderman Wendell Jones being the only yay vote of those present. Alderman Anthony Pinkston was absent.

Clark said he felt this is sending the wrong message for the city that says it wants more revenue.

Earlier in the meeting, the council set a public hearing to close an alley related to the Dollar Tree development. The hearing was set for March 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Also at the meeting, aldermen:

discussed plans to release the Walnut Ridge Community Center to the Lawrence County School District. Walnut Ridge citizen Bobby McDaniel asked about the initial grant application to build the center. Community Center Committee members confirmed that it is past the 20-year period required by the grant before the center could transfer ownership. No action was taken.

approved a resolution amending the 2017 budget to reflect funds needed to hire an additional employee at the Walnut Ridge mayor's office. The employee is required due to additional responsibilities being added to the mayor's office.

approved the final reading of a Ritter Communications franchise agreement to allow the company to provide cable television to businesses.

discussed the need to lower elevation requirement for new structures from two feet to one foot. Fire Chief Frank Owens said this is the recommended elevation for the type of flooding the city experiences.

amended the 2016 budget to reflect about $61,000 in additional expenses on certain line items. Snapp said overall the city came in under budget.

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