Benton Council delays passage of eminent domain

Benton City Council has delayed voting on an ordinance that would authorize the city to use eminent domain in seize necessary lands for the Alcoa Road improvement project.

In a meeting Monday night, the council determined that passing the ordinance at this time is not appropriate and wants to allow the owners of the property more time to meet with City Attorney Brent Houston.

Briggs Field Services negotiated with property owners on behalf of the city and determined it was not possible to acquire some of the necessary property through negotiation and purchase. However, various owners of the property addressed the council on Monday night, stating that Briggs Field Service did not properly negotiate with them and that they felt they were not receiving a fair price for their property.

One of the land owners, Pat M. Ioup, stated that she felt she had been mistreated through the negotiation process and because she has been at her property for 52 years. She said she wants the city to be aware of her treatment by Briggs Field Services.

Another homeowner said, "Roads go with prosperity and growth and a better life for everyone." He concluded by saying the property owners just want to be treated fairly.

Houston stated, "I don't know of anyone who enjoys taking someone else's property."

Mayor David Mattingly stated he would call a special meeting of the council to hear Ordinance 25 on its second reading.

This would allow the property owners until June 23, the regularly scheduled meeting of the council, to meet with Houston and continue the negotiations.

The properties that would be acquired through eminent domain with the passage of the ordinance are: 6513 Alcoa Road, owned by Joe E. and Pat M. Ioup; 6817 Alcoa Road, owned by Carl Eckhardt and Meleah Carter, trustees, and Debra and James R. Ramsey; 4523 Sleepy Village Road, owned by Eustorgio and Obdulla Couto; 5925 Alcoa Road, owned by Larry Teeter; the northeast corner of Alcoa Road and Sleepy Village Road, owned by Larry and Donna Teeter; 5150 Alcoa Road; 6712 Alcoa Road, owned by Larry Reynolds; 6802 and 6900 Alcoa Road, owned by Dalton Beaty, trustee; and 2303 Lee Circle, owned by Stinson and Doris Bailey.

After the properties are seized, the mayor will pay into the registry of the Saline County Circuit Court the appraised value of the lands and other sums as may be determined by the Circuit Court to be just compensation to the owners.

In other business, the council passed Resolution 26, which authorizes the execution of an agreement with Crafton, Tull & Associates Inc. for the design of Longview Street. This agreement will allow Crafton, Tull & Associated to provide engineering services for complete reconstruction of Longview to include, but not limited to, new storm drainage, utility relocation, widening and possible realignment of the street.

The expected cost of the Longview Street project is $452,283.48 including engineering costs. This project was approved by the Streets and Drainage Committee as part of two street and three drainage projects that the committee wished to complete.

Resolution 27 also originated in the Streets & Drainage committee and authorizes the abandonment of an alley located at the 600 block of South East Street. The Resolution was passed as it had been determined that a commercial development will take place at the location if the city abandons the alley. The city determined that they alley is not necessary for highway purposes and will be of an economic benefit to the city.

In other business, Mattingly presented Ordinance 27, sponsored by Alderman Jerry Ponder, which provides for the sale of public property. The ordinance was passed and therefore there will be a public auction on June 12.

The property to be auctioned includes a 2002 Chevrolet truck, two 2004 Dodge Ram 2500 trucks, a 2000 Dodge Ram 2500 truck, a 2004 International 4400, two 1999 Dodge Ram 1500 trucks, a 1994 Chevrolet cab/chassis, a 1996 GMC 1 ton, a 1999 Jeep Cherokee, a 200 Jeep Cherokee, a 1987 Ford Tanker Sludge Truck, a 1991 Dodge Ram Truck, a 1995 GMC truck, a 1996 Dodge Ram truck, a 1991 Chevrolet, and three 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 trucks.

The mayor also presented Resolution 25, sponsored by Alderman Brad Moore, which authorizes the Benton District Court to destroy certain records prior to 2006. The resolution passed since Arkansas law allows the district court to destroy certain records after the passage of time. All records to be destroyed have been retained for at least three years and have been audited. The records will be destroyed by the end of this year by burning/shredding said records.

The records to be destroyed are bank reconciliations, check book registers/check listings, canceled checks, bank statements, receipts, deposit collection records, receipts listings, distribution reports, receipt and disbursement journals, time payment records, citation book logs, citation books from each police department and sheriff's office, copies of citations, alternative service or community serve time sheets, uniform filing fees collection remittance forms and fine reports, served warrants and miscellaneous fees and fine collection reports. All documents are from the period between 1980 and 2005.
Additionally, three rezoning applications were approved.

Ordinance 28 rezones land at the request of Anna Wilson.

A public hearing was held on May 13 to hear the application. 801 Lillian street was rezoned from single-family residential to multi-family residential.

Ordinance 29 relates to an application filed by J.T. Meister, Jr., owner of LBDG Consultants. A public hearing was held May 13 to hear the application. The east side of the 600 block of South East Street at its intersection with Edison Avenue was rezoned from service commercial to neighborhood commercial.

Ordinance 30 stems from an application filed by Summerwood Partners. A public hearing was held May 13 to hear the application. Lots 1, 2, 3, and block 4 of Neeley's Addition at the Southwest Corner of Columbia Street and Neeley Street was rezoned from single-family residential to service commercial.

All of the rezoning requests previously were approved by the city's Planning and Zoning Commission, which recommended the changes to the council.

Alderman James Herzfeld presented two ordinances on behalf of the Public Utilities Commission. Ordinance 26 was heard on its first reading and amends Ordinance 27 of 2012 which adopted the customer services rules, regulations and fees for the Benton Utilities Department. The ordinance changes the fees associated with water service and states that the water department crews will open and close the ditches for water pipe installation. They will also provide a bore or asphalt repair for service installation.

Additionally, the ordinance charges a connection fee of only $500 per meter for new subdivisions. Ordinance 26 will be heard again at the next council meeting.

Ordinance 31 passed and waives competitive bidding and authorizes and ratifies the rehabbing of a 1997 Simon-Telelect bucket unit with a Ford F-800 chasis for the Benton Utilities electric department. This allows Benton Utilities to purchase from Terex Services all supplies necessary as well as labor to repair the vehicle. The total cost is $98,500 plus applicable taxes.

The mayor presented a service award to Officer Chris Miller of the Benton Police Department for his 10 years of service.

Alderman Bill Donnor presented the Employee of the Month Award to Detective Eli Fowlkes for April.
The mayor will announce a date for the special meeting.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is set for Monday, June 23, at 7 p.m. in council chambers. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.