State approves Green Forest wastewater expansion plans

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

By Kelby Newcomb

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has approved the plans for Green Forest’s wastewater expansion project.

Public works director Buddy Fry told the Green Forest City Council at its Tuesday meeting that ADH had approved the plans.

“We did get a letter from the health department. They have approved the plans for the wastewater expansion,” he said, “but we’re still waiting on the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). We may see something within 30 days, and we will be ready to advertise on the wastewater plant.”

The council later voted to approve Ordinance 664, which would revise city code to state that all property owners are required to cut weeds and grass to a height of eight inches or less, on its first reading.

Mayor Charles Reece said the ordinance was necessary because the city code had not been specific on the height of grass permitted in city limits.

“There’s been concern expressed by our code enforcement officials, and, after looking at it, I agree,” he said. “Our ordinance on grass is not very specific. There is no illegal height to grass. We are looking to put a height limit on it before [residents] get a notice.”

Reece said residents have seven days to correct a problem after receiving a notice from the city. They then receive a certified letter, which gives them 10 days to resolve the problem, he said. After that, the residents will get a summons to appear in court if the problem has not been corrected.

Reece said the ordinance would have an emergency clause because the height limit would not be in effect until late summer if the council did three readings on the ordinance.

Alderman Cody Boren said he did not think the ordinance needed an emergency clause.

“Personally, I don’t think grass constitutes an emergency,” he said.

“No specific height is listed, so we can’t legally say anyone’s grass is too high,” Reece said.

Alderman Tim Hatman agreed with Boren, suggesting the council approve the ordinance on its second and third readings at the next meeting.

“Why don’t we do the other readings at the next council meeting so people have time to be aware of the change,” Hatman said. “I don’t want to do an emergency clause on grass, either.”

Reece said that would work. The council will review Ordinance 664 for its second and third readings at its June meeting.

Also at the meeting, Brenda Patterson of the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program (TPCP) addressed the council about Tobacco 21, a national campaign to raise the minimum legal age for tobacco and nicotine sales to 21.

“Nicotine is highly addictive, and adolescents are more susceptible to its effects because they’re still going through a critical period of growth and development,” she said. “Most smokers start before the age of 21, and the average age people start is 12. Companies target youth heavily.”

Patterson asked the council to consider passing an ordinance raising the minimum legal age for tobacco and nicotine sales to 21 in Green Forest. Reece said the council would consider the issue.

Reece informed the council that Eagle Fuel of Oklahoma has purchased the former Exxon stations in Green Forest, Berryville and Eureka Springs.

“As far as when they will open, I don’t have a specific date on that,” he said.

Reece said he has also received a lot of comments on the poor condition of Highway 62.

“It is indeed kind of like a washboard,” he said. “For those who don’t know, the city cannot resurface that. It is strictly a state project. I encourage citizens, if you want to put a little more pressure on the state to get this resurfaced, to call the highway department in Harrison and let them know something needs to be done.”

Reece continued, “I have spoken with them several times. They’ve said they are going to do it, but we need it sooner rather than later.”

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 12, at City Hall.

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