July 31, 2011 by wcobserver
Code Enforcement Discussed
By Renee Reed
WEST FORK – City Council Members waded through loan details before approving an ordinance that will pave the way for a short term loan to complete the third planned phase of ball field improvements in Carter Park during its July 12 meeting.
The loan, which is brokered by Stephens Inc. will complete fencing and lighting at Carter Park at an estimated cost of $400,000 for the third of four planned phases in the park. Michael McBryde of Stephens Inc. in Fayetteville said the interest rate of 3.5 percent was lower than had been anticipated and would save the city about $200 per month over what had initially been budgeted. McBryde said Arvest Bank would be financing the five year loan. Arvest Bank previously financed the Phase Two loan for the park.
McBryde explanined to council members the difference between the loan and a bond; the loan does not require approval from voters. Tom Kieklak, the city’s attorney, explained that municipalities can only borrow up to five percent of its total of real estate owned, while a bond could go beyond this. Kieklak brought up the question of whether the amount of the Phase Three loan was within the five percent range.
McBryde assured the council that this was indeed a loan and did not need to be voted on by the general population.
“Arvest clearly has faith that the city can repay this loan or this deal would not go through, even with unaudited financials,” said McBryde.
Construction of the fencing and lighting should begin in the fall reported Dave Roebke, city parks director.
City council members spent most of the remainder of the meeting discussing the dual role of the planning commission. The two jobs of the commission are divided into the planning commission duties and board of adjustment duties.
The planning commission is responsible for the legal footprint of the city. It hears and responds to citizens in need of zoning changes for land and building purposes.
The second responsibility of the commission is to meet as the Board of Adjustment. This board hears appeals to “unjust zoning laws which effect signing off on construction” said Kieklak. An example given by Kieklak was of a landowner wanting to build closer to the street than allowed by law due to a steep drop off of the property towards the rear of the site. That landowner could bring a case to the board for a hearing of the matter.
During the general discussion of these duties, the role of code enforcement officer was brought up by Councilmember Misty Caudle. This lead to questions of who the city enforcement officer is. Bartholomew and Chief Nelson have been responsible for city code inspections and in the case of Nelson, following up on violations.
The mayor officially holds the code enforcement position until the city hires one. The city does not currently have a position available for a new enforcement officer. “We will work our way through it,” said Mayor Hime.
Bartholomew reassured the city council that the proper building code enforcement had been completed for every new home construction including plumbing, electrical and other requirements needed for a certificate for occupancy. “We have all these records,” stated Bartholomew.
In other city council news, Police Chief Nelson told the council that the June crime count was up especially at the river. In the month of June, there were 32 liquor violations, 104 traffic violations, 55 warrants issued and one vehicle burglary at Riverside Park, reported Nelson. “The Intox Meter has arrived,” said Nelson.
The final agenda item was “City Website.” Gail Hardy, owner of Xpressions, a website design business located in Prairie Grove made a presentation and answered questions about a possible future official web site for West Fork. Her company, Xppressions, has designed web sites for other area cities including Lincoln Greenland, Prairie Grove and the Prairie Grove Chamber of Commerce.
Hardy noted that a city website is a community tool that can save staff time by making available on the internet information that would otherwise be communicated to citizens by phone. She explained that her company will design the site based on what the city wants. The design cost is about $100 per page with a city website usually consisting of about 20-25 pages.