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Gravette council hears reports, considers rezonings

by Susan Holland | January 18, 2022 at 8:57 a.m.

GRAVETTE -- Members of the Gravette City Council heard reports from several department heads and considered a number of requests for rezonings and lot splits at their committee of the whole meeting Thursday, Jan. 13.

Fire chief David Orr filed a written report.

Police chief Chuck Skaggs reported his department responded to 3,048 calls in 2021. He told council members the police department was the winner of the 2021 chili cookoff and said 29 students were involved in their holiday Shop with a Cop program. He thanked council members for their support during the past year.

David Keck, city building inspector and code enforcement officer, reported the new Dollar General store in Hiwasse has opened. He said all permit applications have been submitted for Teri's Place Subdivision on Dallas Street and seven homes are already under construction. He said he has made the first inspections for the O'Reilly's store to be located on Highway 59.

Water department supervisor Richard Sutherland reported his department has been working on a sewer problem at the Bank of Gravette. He said the electric company had built a junction box over the sewer line several years ago. It had caused the line to collapse and it is now being replaced. Sutherland reported he is interviewing applicants for his department, as one employee has quit and another is wanting to retire.

Library manager Karen Benson reported the new pickup station has been installed in front of the library and the response has been very positive. She said the library received $8,315 in CARES Act funds which have been used for UV sanitizing equipment, HEPA air filters, wall-mounted hand sanitizer and soap dispensers, PPE and cleaning supplies.

Tim Dewitt, streets and parks department supervisor, reported his trucks were all ready to clear the streets of snowfall as snow was forecast over the weekend. He said the city's new backhoe is scheduled to be delivered on March 10.

A special council meeting was held following the department heads' reports. Carl Rabey, city finance director, recommended at the special meeting that American Rescue Plan funds be used to pay off the balance owed on fire and police department radios, saying, "It is good any time we can eliminate debt." Council members approved his recommendation and voted to pay off the radio balance of $81,900.

In new business, council members discussed the condemnation of a building on Birmingham Street which is partially on city right of way. The property owner had requested payment for the building, but city attorney David Bailey said he saw no legal basis for such payment and thought it might be considered illegal use of city funds. Mayor Kurt Maddox said city records showed the building was on city property and the owner should have been aware of that when he bought the property. Council members had already voted to proceed with condemnation of the building at the December council meeting.

Council members discussed a request to rezone property at the corner of Main Street and Eighth Avenue N.W. from A-1, agricultural, to I-1, industrial. Liberty Utilities wishes to construct a new service center and pole yard on the site. A building of 6,000 to 10,000 square feet would be used by a service crew of about three members. Crew vehicles would be housed inside and a pole yard would be located on the property. One objection has been raised from a nearby property owner who questions the need for rezoning the entire parcel.

A second rezoning request was considered for 9.91 acres at 14716 Highway 72 owned by O'Brien Rock Company of St. Paul, Kan. O'Brien requests rezoning from C-2, highway commercial, to I-1, industrial, for the purpose of constructing a concrete ready mix plant. The request is to be considered at the Jan. 25 meeting of the planning commission and council members agreed to wait for their recommendation. Both rezonings will be on the agenda for the Jan. 27 council meeting.

Council members discussed a request for a lot split for property at 16675 Barnwell Drive owned by Brandon Arnold and asked Arnold to submit an updated plat. A second request was considered for a lot split on property at 11619 Stagecoach Road owned by Bob Bland. Mayor Maddox requested that David Keck verify the location of a septic system and report to him.

A brief discussion was held on a proposed go-kart track on the Hiwasse Saddle Club grounds and Keck reported receiving one more letter in opposition to the track. Council chair Ron Theis spoke in favor of issuing a one-year conditional use permit for the project.

Council members considered a healthcare services agreement with Ozarks Community Hospital. Mayor Maddox explained that OCH has become a nonprofit institution and is asking for the city's support. Attorney Bailey objected to the paragraph on indemnification, saying the city cannot indemnify anyone, and Mayor Maddox said that section is being revised.

Finance director Carl Rabey reported on budget adjustments which will be on the agenda for the Jan. 27 city council meeting. He explained that one is the annual final budget adjustment for 2021 and is the result of not drawing all the money for city hall renovation in 2021. The other is for budget adjustments related to grant expenses. Rabey also reported that this is the time of year for record destruction and over 20 boxes of records from 2013 and 2014 are being destroyed according to Arkansas Municipal League regulations.

Rabey reported that the annual financial report shows a net surplus of $761,000, including $325,000 in American Rescue Plan funds. The general fund has a surplus of $202,000, the street fund a surplus of almost $60,000 and the water fund a surplus of $82,000. The bond fund shows a balance of $189,000 in the sidewalk fund and a balance of $9,000 in the parks fund.

Print Headline: Gravette council hears reports, considers rezonings

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