Green Forest annexation to take effect July 1

Friday, May 15, 2015

The city of Green Forest is getting a little bit larger, effective July 1.

Mayor Charles Reece explained at Tuesday morning's meeting of the Green Forest City Council that the city limits will be extended past Powell's One Stop on Highway 62 West. The annexed area will extend 1,100 feet on each side of Highway 62.

Reece said the change will not affect landowners in the area.

"The people will be guaranteed to be able to utilize their property as is forever, unless they change it," Reece said, adding that the city will not charge any additional property taxes to pre-existing landowners in the area.

Reece said the annexation was approved by landowners who signed a petition. It then was approved by Carroll County Judge Sam Barr and finally by the state. He said the annexation will help the city prepare for future commercial growth.

Reece informed the council of a contract between the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department and the city of Green Forest to approve a road bore project. Green Forest, he said, will need to pay $69,694.45 for the project, with the state contributing $1.2 million.

"The state's going to do it, and there are funds available for us to do it," Reece said, encouraging the council to approve the contract.

The council did so, also approving a request from Green Forest business owner Brent Smith to exempt Traffic Safety Company from an ordinance prohibiting discharge of firearms within city limits.

Reece read a letter submitted by Smith, noting that a bullet trap has been installed at the business intending to cater to private citizens and local law enforcement. The trap, Smith emphasized in his letter, will not be open to the public.

Assistant fire chief Ed Phillips said he inspected the bullet trap and found it meets safety standards. Phillips noted that the trap is currently not fit for public use.

"If he opens it to the public, then he's going to have to put a ventilation system in. There's a lot more to it if it's open to the public," Phillips said.

Police Chief John Bailey said he has not yet inspected the trap but will soon, prompting Reece to issue a caveat.

"In the event it doesn't meet other inspection standards, obviously we'd rescind that approval," Reece said.

Saying he's been worried about this issue for some time, Reece told the council that there has been a significant increase in cats and dogs at large in the city, as well as out-of-service automobiles with no current registration.

"I've had a lot of complaints, not necessarily about the automobiles but the dogs and cats that are allowed to run free," Reece said. "The problem most citizens have reported is walking and these dogs chasing after them and barking and basically making people feel very uncomfortable."

He encouraged pet owners in city limits to keep their dogs and cats restrained, noting that the city will have to take serious action if the situation doesn't improve.

Several ordinances passed since January, Reece added, have been translated into Spanish to help Spanish-speaking residents of the city. He said these ordinances address the plumbing and electrical process, vendor permits and the mobile home age limitation.

"I think it's important that we make sure that our Spanish-speaking citizens are given every opportunity to know what's expected for the permits," he said.

Bailey briefed the council on the police department, saying he is currently getting prices on a new vehicle. He added that the department has two new police officers, Hunter Lafever and Nichole Slay.

Reece noted that the department still has one vehicle purchase allocated in the budget after Bailey purchases the vehicle he's researching. These purchases, Reece said, will come out of the emergency fund.

Phillips described what his department has been doing, noting that Tyson Foods has begun building a long-promised helicopter pad.

Reece told Phillips that $34,000 has been moved into the checking account for the purchase of a new brush truck whenever Phillips can find one at a reasonable price. "You keep looking for a good price on a brush truck and we'll get something going for you," Reece said.

Buddy Fry, director of public works, notified the council that the project on Ratzlaff Avenue will be completed by June 27. "We've got the lamps and the globes in. I can't see why it won't be ready by then," Fry said.

Reece reminded the council of several upcoming dates, including: June 27, when the annual 5K Rat Race will take place; July 11, when a Patriots Day celebration will be held at 2 p.m. at the First Assembly of God Church; and July 21, when the council will meet at 8:30 a.m. for a mid-year budget review.

The council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 9.

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