Politics

Landfill Expansion, Atwoods Lot Acquisition Among Issues for Hope Board Meeting

There were only two ordinances on the agenda for the Hope City Board’s November 19 meeting, both dealing with rezoning residential property, but the board did receive significant information about the state and future of the city’s landfill which they will have to make decisions about in the near future as well as updates and information on several projects ongoing around Hope currently.


Landfill Expansion

Stuart Nolan said the sky isn’t falling on the landfill situation but action will have to be taken in the near future.

City Manager Catherine Cook and consultant Stuart Nolan informed the Board of Directors that the current Class 4 landfill at the city landfill in Guernsey is about 18 months from being at capacity and action will need to be taken to expand into another section of the property soon. Cook said they wanted to let the Board know so they can start to look into the issue for themselves before having to take action.

A Class 4 landfill is defined by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality as on that can accept only inert, non-decaying materials that either degrade very slowly or do not degrade at all. Items such as construction waste, tree waste, minor amounts of yard waste and furniture and appliances are examples of waste allowed in Class 4 landfills.

According to Nolan and Cook, the city is already permitted for the expansion on the land but there will be construction costs and the plans will have to be run by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Costs are expected to be around $400,000 to construct the new landfill, which will still be on site of the land where the current landfill is. Cook said that there are options for financing the construction, but a bond issue shouldn’t be necessary. Ideally, Cook said, the city would like to work with a local bank for a short-term loan of four to five years. According to Nolan, there is no debt on the current landfill.

Cook praised how the landfill issue was handled in the past and said it showed great foresight by the elected officials in dealing with the city’s solid waste needs. Cook said the city is fortunate and in a much better place to handle its solid waste needs than many municipalities which have very limited space or are forced to transport their solid waste 50 or more miles away for a Class 4 landfill.

The current landfill is 2 ¼ acres and has been in use for 10 years according to Cook. The new landfill will be 3 acres and is projected to be in use for 15 years at current usage rates.

No action was taken on the issue at this time as the information was provided to allow the Board to get up to speed before taking action.

Rezoning

Two lots in the city made their way out of the Planning and Zoning Committee and to the Board Tuesday night. Owners of both lots are sought to have their lots rezoned to R-5 so that they can install mobile homes.

The first lot at 1307 W. 4th St. was requested to be changed from R-3 to R-5. The second lot at 610 W. Hickory was requested to have its zoning changed from R-2 to R-5.

According to Cook, many of the lots in certain neighborhoods around the city are only 50’ wide and have few options. She said there had been discussion previously to change the zoning of some of these areas to allow for mobile homes and that unless the city wants to tell property owners that they can’t use the property they own, allowing mobile homes in these areas is necessary.  Both lots are in neighborhoods that have other mobile homes on lots that were either approved for rezoning previously or were grandfathered in. The lot on 4th has one across the street and on a couple of lots east of it. The one on Hickory has 16 other mobile homes on lots in its vicinity.

The ordinance to rezone 1307 W. 4th from R-3 to R-5 was passed unanimously by the Board but there was some dissension concerning the lot on Hickory. According to Director Kiffinea Talley, several people showed up to oppose the rezoning of the lot on Hickory because the owner apparently plans to use the mobile home as a rental property. Despite the objections, the issue was passed through the committee and brought to the board and was approved with only Director Talley voting against it.


Surplus Property

Hope Police Chief J.R. Wilson presented a request to the Board to declare a vehicle used as a courtesy car at the Hope Airport as surplus property and to have a car previously declared surplus property to have the designation removed so that it can replace it.

According to Chief Wilson, the city keeps a courtesy car at the airport for use by pilots when they land at Hope. The car is part of the Hope Police Department fleet and is covered under its insurance policy. The current car, a 2008 model, was recently involved in a collision with a deer on Highway 278 East near the Hampton Inn and, instead of sinking money into the vehicle for repairs, the city wants to replace it with a 2013 Dodge Charger that was formerly a police unit and was declared surplus property by the Board in May of 2019.

The Charger has already had all of the equipment and striping removed. Sale of the vehicle was planned once another surplus car had its equipment removed.

The Board voted unanimously to allow the change.

City Manager’s Report

Atwoods Lot Purchase
In her report to the Board, City Manager Catherine Cook said that Director Don Still has been working with Tourism to acquire Atwood’s overflow parking lot located on the northwest corner of West 2nd Street and South Pine Street. The plan is to purchase the property and turn it over to the National Parks Service to incorporate into the Clinton Birthplace Historical Site. Cook said Atwoods agreed to sell the property for $48,000.

The Atwood’s property, combined with the Kopecky property, would, according to Cook, become the main entry way for visitors to the Clinton home. The city acquired the Kopecky property earlier this year and plans to turn it over to the National Parks as well, with the exception of a Veterans Memorial to be installed on the corner of Hervey and 2nd St., which will remain under the care of the city.

Cook said that the National Parks plan to utilize the trees and make a greenspace on the property in addition to parking and the main entrance to the park. Cook said that the National Parks’ plans would dovetail nicely with the streetscape project, which will place antique lighting and a walkway from the Clinton House to Pavilion Park at 2nd and Elm.

While some may object to the city spending almost $120,000 between the Kopecky property and the Atwood property to deed it to the federal government, Director Mark Ross said it is a worthwhile investment due to the number of tourists the Clinton Home attracts into the city. Director Still said the park attracts around 10,000 visitors to Hope each year. Mayor Steve Montgomery said it is a good plan and a good investment for the city.


Northside Park
Hope resident Hazel Simpson requested an update on the status of new signage for the Northside Park and expressed an interest in utilizing the park for a Jazz Festival in the future. City Manager Cook said that they are looking at options and want to look at larger signage than current zoning allows. Cook said they plan to make full-sized banners to see what will work before moving forward. Cook also said that the electric infrastructure currently at Northside Park isn’t sufficient to support setting up stages and holding concerts so upgrades would have to be made to accommodate the plans. Simpson said they want to utilize the park more for community events. In addition, Director Talley said that the city needs to look at more lighting in the park.

Cats
Director Talley asked that the city look into options to allow the city to deal with cat populations as they are an issue for some neighborhoods. According to Chief J.R. Wilson, the only law regarding cats is a state law that they have to be vaccinated for rabies. The city’s Animal Control does not have housing for felines and is limited in what it can do unless an new city ordinance is passed.

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