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Gravette property owner protests demolition of building

by Susan Holland | November 9, 2021 at 10:15 a.m.

GRAVETTE -- Dr. Ty Russell attended the Nov. 4 meeting of the Gravette City Council Committee of the Whole and addressed the group regarding a building on his property which was built more than halfway inside the city's right of way. The building is located over an existing water line and must be removed to make way for the water line upgrade in that area. Russell said the building had been there many years. He did not build it and he felt it was not right for the city to tear down his building.

Later in the meeting, council member Richard Carver asked how many other old structures might be located inside the city right of way and suggested a survey be done to prevent similar problems in the future. Councilman Ron Theis outlined the three options, demolishing only the offending portion of the building, condemning the structure and requiring the owner to tear it down himself, or demolishing the entire structure and working with the owner to help defray costs of removal and cleanup. Mayor Kurt Maddox said city attorney David Bailey recommended the third option.

Both Carver and councilman Jeff Davis expressed concern that whatever is done would set a precedent for similar situations in the future and suggested further negotiation with Russell. Theis said more discussion would be held and, if members were not ready to make a decision at the November council meeting, it could be tabled until December.

Several department heads gave brief verbal reports at the meeting. Police Chief Chuck Skaggs reported answering 278 calls since the last meeting. He said traffic has increased since the last section of the bypass was opened and that accounts for some of the increased calls. He reported the police department has started their No-Shave November campaign to raise funds for helping needy families with Thanksgiving dinner and said the department would be taking 25 students on Shop with a Cop shopping trips Dec. 13 and 14.

Building inspector and code enforcement officer David Keck reported O'Reilly's has started site work and is making progress on the adjacent drainage ditch. Jenna's Place subdivision in Hiwasse is moving along and Teri's Place subdivision in Gravette should be starting construction on new homes before the end of the year.

Water department supervisor Richard Sutherland reported engineering work has begun on moving the water lines south of town to prepare for the ARDOT passing lane project. He said he has been receiving many inquiries from persons desiring to have new water taps installed.

Karen Benson, library manager, reported that Moon Over Main Street is being held again on Saturday, Nov. 13, and this year is a part of the [email protected] program. She also reported she has been asked to teach a grant writing workshop at the Arkansas State Library meeting.

Fire Chief David Orr reported his department has responded to 235 calls so far this year. He said the department has been focusing on improving safety and now has protective vests for everyone. He reported that Trick or Treat on Main Street was a big success.

Tim Dewitt, streets and parks department manager, reported the city tree giveaway was held Oct. 23 and 200 trees were given out in 48 minutes. Three representatives from Carroll Electric Company were a big help in loading the trees and advising citizens how and where to plant them. He said his crew has been busy winterizing the pool, city buildings and equipment. He reported they would begin putting up Christmas lights on Monday.

The Lykins large-scale development was tabled again since building inspector Keck said he had received no new information on correcting the clerical error on the property description.

A Hiwasse resident attended the meeting and expressed her desire to purchase land from the city at 13525 Sandusky Drive, adjacent to Sandusky Drive and Old Train Road, to build a garage. Inspector Keck suggested a title search be done to make sure the city is actually the owner of the property.

Finance director Carl Rabey presented a resolution approving adjustments to the 2021 budget. The resolution will be on the agenda for the Nov. 18 council meeting.

Rabey presented the October financial report which showed a $13,000 surplus in the general fund, a $16,000 surplus in the street fund and a $60,000 surplus in the water fund. He reported a $4,000 increase in state turnback funds, a $1,000 increase in street funds and a $13,000 decrease in expenses over the previous month.

Rabey presented a resolution adopting premium pay for certain municipal employees to be paid from the American Rescue Plan funds. The resolution will be on the agenda for the Nov. 18 council meeting. Rabey said the city will be receiving $724,000 in ARPA funds and suggested a new ambulance, new backhoe and accessories and the right of way widening project as other possibilities for spending the money.

Finally, Rabey presented the proposed 2022 city budget. He said he had taken a conservative approach on projected 2022 income. The budget must be adopted by the council by Feb. 1, 2022, but is usually adopted prior to Jan. 1. He said a report has been received on the 2020 audit and it will be ready for approval after the state audit committee's next meeting.

Print Headline: Gravette property owner protests demolition of building

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