GENTRY -- The city council in Gentry, at its regular meeting on March 6, passed ordinances relating to setbacks for structures in the agricultural zone, through-truck traffic on Main Street, regulating horseback riding on city sidewalks, and the on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Because previously established setbacks for the city had been dropped out of the city code in regard to the A1 Agricultural Zone, the council adopted, on three readings, an ordinance establishing building setbacks of 25 feet in the front yard of A-1 properties, 10 feet in the back yard and on the interior side of structures and 25 feet on the exterior side (if a corner lot).
An ordinance regulating truck traffic was also passed on three readings with a single vote. The ordinance requires commercial trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or more to use designated truck routes within the city unless delivering or picking up goods at an address not on a truck route. The ordinance states that state highways within the city are already designated as truck routes and that the city may hereafter designate truck routes by appropriate ordinance.
The ordinance was brought before the council because of truck traffic on West Main Street in the city, a street that is not a part of the state highway system and is not designated as a truck route. According to Mayor Kevin Johnston, there were at one time signs at both ends of West Main Street prohibiting through truck traffic, but now at least one of these signs is missing.
Johnston said that through truck traffic has become more and more of an issue in the city. The ordinance requires that "all through trucks, or truck traffic, that does not originate or terminate within the city shall use the ... designated truck routes and no other street, alley, or road within city limits. Local trucks may make limited use of streets not designated as truck routes to the extent necessary or appropriate to reach their destination."
Penalties for violations of this ordinance can be up to $100 for the first offense and up to $500 for each second or subsequent offense, according to the ordinance.
An ordinance was also passed on three readings making it unlawful to ride a horse on any sidewalk within the city. It also prohibits horses in any of the city parks, except that horses may be ridden in the Flint Creek Nature Area but not on the improved trails in that park. The ordinance also corrects the current city code which prohibits animals in the city park during the annual fall festival since the festival has been discontinued.
The ordinance came about because of complaints related to recent horseback riding on sidewalks in the downtown area and the manure left behind. The restriction was also passed due to the potential dangers to those sharing the parks or the sidewalks with horses.
Passed by the council on its first reading was an ordinance that would allow the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages inside establishments in compliance with state statutes and regulations of the Alcohol Beverage Control Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. If passed on its subsequent two readings, the ordinance would allow the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor and the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption. Hours for such sale would be restricted to between 10 a.m. and 12 midnight.
The ordinance was passed on its first reading only to allow time for city residents to comment and for any needed changes to the proposed ordinance.
Gentry police chief Clay Stewart reported that the city of Gravette has a similar ordinance allowing on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages and that the Gravette chief of police has reported no problems or issues related to the new law.
In addition, the council passed an ordinance on three readings codifying past city ordinances into a comprehensive city code. Adopted by the ordinance was a 246-page PDF of the city code, which the city can post online on the city website and which will be updated from time to time as needed.
Also adopted on three readings was an ordinance amending the city water rates to provide for water meters of sizes of 8 inches and above and setting that amount at $1,073.22. This change provides for city customers with a larger water meter than covered in the current rate schedule. The meter charge is expected to be adjusted when the city completes its required water rate study in the near future.
It was also reported by Mayor Johnston that the spring citywide cleanup in Gentry is tentatively scheduled for the weekend of April 29 through 30. He said he is waiting for a confirmation that dumpsters will be available to the city before he finalizes and officially publicizes those dates.
The council also heard from Larry Gregory, of the Garver engineering firm, regarding the wastewater master plan. He said that the mapping of the city's sewer system is almost done and that the city was to start dye testing on Monday.
Also reported to the council was the regular planning commission meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday of this week. A report was also included showing that city sales and use taxes, as well as county taxes, continue to be up in 2023 over previous years.