Thu February 06, 2020

By Bren Yocom


Re-Zoning Issue, Dox Property Donation and More Discussed at City Board's First Meeting of February

City Board City Of Hope Rezoning Issue Dox Property Donation
Re-Zoning Issue, Dox Property Donation and More Discussed at City Board's First Meeting of February

The Hope City Board held their first meeting of the month on Tuesday, February 4. Reviewing several agenda items and hearing one citizens request.

After several events held at the airport over the last few years, the aircraft owners expressed concern that they were paying rental fees to store their plane and that rental of the hangar facilities created issues, which could potentially cause damage to their planes. At that time, a policy was put into place that all requests for use of the airport must be approved by the City Board. There are currently 7 planes that rent hangar space at the cost of $150 per month.

New Millennium has requested permission to rent the airport hangar for two events in 2020, once in April for about 50 people and again in December for 320 people. Director Mark Ross stated that some citizens were already being told that the airport hangar could not be rented for events and they didn’t need to go back on that policy and let anyone rent it now since others have been denied the opportunity.

After much discussion and hearing how the aircrafts can be damaged so easily from a concerned citizen, Director Ross made a motion that the city no longer allows anyone to rent or lease the immediate area of the hangar at Hope Municipal Airport as an activity venue. The motion was seconded, and the Board voted to deny rental of the airport hangar for events to prevent damage to any aircraft that is stored there.

The Sanitation Department requested approval from the Board to declare some of the older equipment as surplus and authorize their sale. If approved, a 2006 Sterling backup trash truck, a 2011 Freightliner commercial backup truck and a 1991 Chevrolet pickup used by the mechanic would be sold at an online auction that complies with Arkansas State Law. The Board voted to approve the motion to move these items to surplus.

A few months ago, the board approved $90,000 for the purchase of two fully equipped Police Vehicles in the 2020 Capital Outlay Budget. Since that time, it has been discovered that Dodge no longer produces the Dodge Charger Police Package and since Ford stopped production of the Interceptor Sedan last year, the only vehicles available in a police package are SUVs. The SUVs are more expensive, thus creating budgetary problems.

Police Chief, JR Wilson proposed a solution to only purchase one vehicle for 2020 instead of 2. After a review of fleet assets, Chief Wilson and the Patrol Lieutenant determined that the fleet is in very good shape and there are not a lot of cars with high mileage on them. It was concluded that the purchase of only one SUV will not compromise the effectiveness of Police Operations. Chief Wilson requested that the City Board allow HPD to purchase one fully equipped SUV, specifically the Ford SUV Hybrid Police Package for 2020.

The Hybrid, more expensive than the Dodge Durango, but is estimated to reduce fuel costs, offers additional safety measures, and would also bring a higher resale value. Ford estimates that police cruisers idle around 61% of the time and the hybrid uses approximately .2 of a gallons per hour, whereas the gasoline engine would use around .5 of a gallons per hour at idle.

Approving the purchase of 1 vehicle vs 2 would allow for an estimated $32,000 savings in the HPD Budgeted Capital Outlay expenditures for 2020. If the Durango Sedan is purchased, the savings would increase by approximately $7,000.

After consideration by the Board, the request to purchase the Ford SUV Hybrid Police Package for 2020 was approved.

In a November 2019 meeting, the Hope Downtown Network requested that the City forgive the lien on the former Dox Building property so that the property could be donated to the City for development as a park. At that time, the Board instructed the City Manager to have the property appraised and the current property value determined.

The property, located in the center of downtown Hope, was considered by the public and the city as a safety hazard due to a collapsed roof and unsafe conditions of the building and had been the subject of a number of code enforcement complaints for several years. The City of Hope condemned the property and in April of 2017, contracted to demolish the structure for $37,500, then placed a lien on the property for the cost of demolition.

The City Manager stated that the reports have been received and the current appraised value is $13,000, leaving an amount of $24,500 if subtracted from the lien.

Bob Erwin, with Hope Downtown Network, stated that the equipment and all improvements to the property were already being donated and would not cost the city additional expense. Mayor Montgomery expressed that donating the property would be beneficial to improving our downtown area, but Kiffinea Talley had concerns that the property owner owned other lots downtown and should be able to pay the lien if those lots were sold.

Director Trevor Coffee made a motion that the lien be forgiven in exchange for the lot being donated to the city as city property. The motion was seconded and approved 5-1, with Director Kiffinea Talley being the lone nay vote.

Director Don Still asked if the city would be involved in the planning of the park and Bob Erwin assured the Board that they would be involved in all decisions since the city will be the ones maintaining the property. Catherine Cook discussed the possibility of looking into a grant for the improvements by leveraging Hope Downtown Network’s money as a local match for the grant, which would possibly allow them to receive a little more money to cover the cost of tearing that building down.

A zoning change, submitted by B&R Building Supply, was discussed. The property, located at 2215 South Main, is currently zoned as C-3, General Retail and C-4, Office Commercial Use, which a non-conforming land use in that location.

The request was considered by the City of Hope Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday, January 27, 2020, with a recommendation that the property be re-zoned as C-2, Highway Commercial District. The Commission voted to recommend the property be re-zoned as C-2, Highway Commercial District, with Commissioner Whitlock abstaining from the vote.

The City Board reviewed the ordinance and approved the re-zoning of the property to C-2, Highway Commercial District and voted to adopt the ordinance.

Catherine Cook updated the board on City Projects. Cook stated that the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the placement of the sign at Northside Park in their meeting last week. The sign, which will be placed at the park sometime in the near future, will be 25 square feet, and be placed high enough to where you can see under it.

Cook advised the Board that they are working on several projects right now. The Street Department is working on cleaning up brush and limbs around the city. Several grant projects are being finalized with reports being finished up on the firefighters grant, the EDA grant and the New Millennium grant.

The FAA came down last week to look at the airport and discuss the drainage project. Cook stated that they advised her to revise the city’s capital improvement plan because they will not have the grant money next year for discretionary for Phase 1 B of the drainage project. The release of the property at industrial park was discussed. Cook told them of the city’s intentions in regard to that property – they are working with an appraiser now and the field work was finished up Tuesday. When the report is received, it will then go to the Corp of Engineers for their survey. The paperwork for the release is being worked on at this time so it will be ready to send off when the survey has been completed.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality responded about the remediation plan at the landfill. A meeting with one of the ADEQ Associate Directors has been requested by Mrs. Cook to discuss what the city’s goal is for the landfill and how to achieve it.

The Arkansas Municipal League winter conference is February 12-14 and Directors Mark Ross and Kiffanea Talley will be attending. The next conference is scheduled for June and Cook encouraged any board member that would like to attend to let her know so that they can get the registration process started.

Mayor Montgomery asked about the StreetScape Project. Cook commented that Richard Corbin is working on that now. The agreement of sale for the Atwoods property has been signed and received and the insurance is being worked on.

Director Trevor Coffee asked about the sign they were hoping to place at pavilion park. Cook responded that she was still waiting to hear back from a representative at the college. They do think that the machines can produce the lettering that are needed and the welding students can produce the sign, but the painting will have to be done at a local body shop. The money for the sign is still in the budget, but details still need to be worked out with the college to get it completed. Cook stated that she will reach out to the college again to set a meeting to discuss.

Director Coffee asked if the initial work done at the airport had helped at all with the standing water. Cook said that the city actually did the tail end of the project. All of the drainage in the triangle shaped area is gone, but when she went out last Thursday with the FAA, you could hear water running on the main runway, there isn’t really a lot of pipe left. FAA agreed that it isn’t the best, but an emergency situation would have to develop before the city could quickly get money. They were very frank that drainage work is not as high a priority as some of the other projects they are doing at larger airports. Cook stated that it doesn’t seem to be at any immediate risk of failure, or something would be figured out, but the concrete under the runway is very thick and very strong. She has been working with the engineers on ways to streamline the project and plans to argue that the selling of the industrial park property would allow the city to put that money into the drainage project.

Chief Wilson stated that he attended the ARDot meeting in Texarkana last week. The general sales tax issue that will be on the ballot in November will go to fund the highway and road improvements throughout the state for counties and cities. 70% of this tax goes to the state for operation of state highways, 15% to the counties and 15% to the cities. So, if this doesn’t pass then the city will lose about $250,000 and the county would lose about $455,00 annually. This would be a significant hit to our abilities to raise money for our roads here. The city spends about $500,000 per year in overlay, so if this tax passed, it would be cutting our cost half. We are hoping that everyone will vote yes to Issue 1 in November. Cook stated that this is not a new tax, the issue is just being extended and if this money doesn’t continue, then ARDot will just basically be managing the decline of the highway systems. With the plan in place, we should be able to see an improvement and that helps our cities, our counties, and our state as a whole. Mark Ross stated that the city should consider doing a resolution in support of this tax closer to election.

Director Coffee asked for an update on 6th street. Cook stated that they are still waiting on AT&T and Centerpoint. They have been marking off the area, but the city can’t begin the project until their part is completed.

Citizens Request
There was one citizens request by Patsy White that the city fix her sewer line. She stated that Centerpoint found a pipe on her sewer line that had been damaged and the line belonged to the city. Mayor Montgomery and Catherine Cook stated that they would send someone out to look into it. Mrs. White also asked how she could get a culvert installed on her property and Cook responded that if she bought the culvert, the city would come out and install it.  

The meeting was adjourned and the board will meet again on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.

You may watch the meeting in its entirety below.