Berryville council approves land sale
The Berryville City Council last week voted to approve the sale of five acres of land in the city’s Regional Business Park to Matt Hudgins, a Missouri-based cabinet maker looking to expand his business.
According to the proposal presented to the council during the June 1 meeting, Hudgins agreed to pay $9,000 an acre — $45,000 in total — for the property described as “Lot 2” in the documents.
“This guy is ready to close and get under construction as soon as possible,” said Mayor Tim McKinney. “This would be right below the egg plant. We’re going to extend that road and we can get him water and sewer from the egg plant. We’ll go ahead and build him a driveway and that’ll give him access so he can go in and get under construction.”
McKinney said, based on his conversations with Hudgins, that the business employs fewer than 10 workers, a number that is likely to increase once the new facility is finished.
“I not sure exactly, but he employs 6-8 people and that’s just because he doesn’t have room to put anybody else,” McKinney said. “Everybody we’ve talked to says he’s a good quality operator and has a good business going and has the potential for a lot of growth.”
McKinney said the addition to the business park, while relatively small, is still a welcome one.
“We’d love to have somebody come in here and have 500 jobs overnight,” McKinney said, “but you look at Wilson Combat — started in the back of a jewelry store — and Kerusso started in a garage. I think this is a business that really has the potential to grow.”
The proposal to sell the property was approved unanimously after a motion from Linda Riddlesperger.
In other business, the council reviewed a report from Kristine Kimbro with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division regarding the various trees located on the city’s downtown square.
The report was compiled as part of a renovation project approved by the council earlier this year with the purpose of giving the downtown square a face lift — also known as Fountain Park. Part of the plan includes removing some of the existing trees and possibly replacing them in the future.
“We contacted them and told them we’re renovating this and we want it to look good, not just now, but 10 or 15 years from now,” McKinney said. “What we found out, we have a bunch of sick trees. We have trees that are too close together and growing into each other. So they’re recommending that we take out a lot of trees and replant.”
According to Kimbro’s report, there are three species of trees on the square — southern red oaks, sugar maples and green ash — and all but the four oak trees should likely be removed.
“These [four oak] trees are currently receiving some stress due to overcrowding from nearby ash and sugar maple but are otherwise in good shape,” Kimbro wrote. “They should be retained and protected during construction.”
Kimbro said the five sugar maples have all sustained damage over the years and have health issues, while the ash trees — which display varying states of health — present a risk because of the presence of the emerald ash borer, an insect that can devastate the ash population, in the state.
“These should be removed,” Kimbro wrote.
McKinney reiterated that the four oak trees would be protected.
“We’ve got four really good oak trees in the four corners,” McKinney said. “We’re definitely going to leave those. These others we’re going to have to take out.”
McKinney said the purpose behind requesting the report was to give city residents a clear picture of why the removals were necessary.
“We just wanted everybody to look at it and see the reasons why,” McKinney said. “It’s going to be shocking when they’re all cut.”
Plans for the renovation include replacing the old trees with more ornamental species, McKinney said, but the planting won’t take place until the fall, which is a more optimum time for planting.
“We want to get the trees out and do all the construction and the planning,” McKinney said. “The trees can be the last thing. We want to do that in the fall, the right time of year. We don’t want to do it in the hot summertime.”
The council’s next meeting is scheduled for June 15 at Berryville City Hall.