Council extends burn amendment

By Staff, 04/18/17 1:11 PM


PRESCOTT – Approving an amendment to the city’s burning ordinance proved to be problematic for the Prescott City Council Monday night.

The council, at its April meeting, was informed the current amendment that allows residents to burn limbs and leaves would expire on April 30. A new amendment was put forth which would allow the burning to be done indefinitely or until the city can find an adequate solution to the problem. On its face, this seems to be a simple situation – approve the new amendment until a solution is found. It proved to be anything but.

The council was told Chris Hopper, sanitation superintendent, has been talking with Hines Trucking and has met with Nevada County Judge Mark Glass, along with Matt Greenwood, the area representative for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to discuss the situation. Hines is currently not accepting limbs for its chip mill operation. The idea proposed was to find a private residence outside the city limits and enter into a contract with the landowner to allow the burning of limbs and leaves.

Oliver said the rules concerning burning are complicated.

The issue was discussed for several minutes. Once discussion ended, though, several minutes of silence followed with no member of the council making a motion one way or another concerning the amendment. It died for lack of a motion. However, the topic was brought back up, with more discussion ensuing, primarily about burning outside the city limits, and the potential health issues burning causes. Once the discussion ended, more silence ensued resulting it the amendment dying for lack of a motion a second time for all intents and purposes.

But it wasn’t over. The council returned to the topic yet again. The panel talked about how if the amendment wasn’t approved burning wouldn’t be allowed after April 30. Eventually the amendment managed to get a motion and second, passing with a 6-1 vote.

In other business, the council was informed the city is waiting on a decision from Hope concerning the electricity situation. Larry Jones, Jr. said Hope Water and Light (HW&L) has its own transmission lines, but is looking to sell or lease its system. HW&L’s decision could affect what Prescott does.

Jones said Hope’s situation is stalled now, but there should be something for the council to discuss at its May meeting.

Andy Franks, with A.L. Franks Engineering, addressed the panel concerning upgrades to the city’s water system using the state’s revolving loan program. Perry Nelson, superintendent of the water and sewer system, said the department is looking at replacing the 16-inch line that runs from the Little Missouri River at Boughton to the Firestone pond. He pointed out the system was first built in 1964 for industrial purposes, but in 1985 saw the system modified to provide water for Prescott residents.

According to Nelson, the department has done a lot of maintenance on the system, but it’s time to think about replacing it. The city, he said, has a five-mile right-of-way that’s 25-feet wide. The existing lines could remain in place while the new lines are installed alongside the old ones. He said the city will be working with the Arkansas National Resource Commission (ANRC) for financing. Overall the project will cost $3 million. Ten percent of the loan, or $300,000, would be forgiven, as the ANRC can’t give grants.

Franks said his firm has done the preliminary engineering and cost analysis together, and a loan has already been approved, but the city will be responsible for paying 90 percent of the costs. He told the council this will be a long, drawn out process that no one should be in a hurry for because it will take around a year before construction can begin. He said the ARNC will require the passage of three resolutions. One would give the mayor and city clerk authority to sign documents; a second stating the city doesn’t have the money for the project; and a third saying the city has the ability to borrow the money and sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA).

City Attorney Glenn Vasser said he didn’t have a problem with the first two resolutions, but counseled against approving the third as the MOA hasn’t been presented yet. Franks pointed out this wouldn’t be an issue and the MOA could be approved on down the line. The other two resolutions were adopted.

Still on the topic of water, Nelson said the contract with Firestone needed to be approved. The city, he told the council, has an agreement with Firestone to provide water to the plant up to 650,000 gallons a day. The contract is supposed to be renewed every 10 years, but there have been times when this didn’t happen. Additionally, the rates are supposed to be examined every five years, but this hasn’t always happened either.

Vasser said there was a period when there was no effective contract between the city and Firestone. The rates are to be based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Nelson said the city normally provides water to Firestone once or twice a week, as needed, with most of it being used for the business’s boilers. When this is done, he told the council, an operator has to be physically present to switch the flow of water from the city to Firestone and back. Firestone, he continued, agreed to the contract and new pricing. The price had been 56 cents per 1,000 gallons, but, under the new contract, will be $1.03 per 1,000 gallons.

Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, talked about hay bids for the industrial park. She said this project is bid out annually, and this year only one bid was received. Nicky Ward submitted a bid of $5.26 per roll and was awarded the contract.

Ward, she said, suggested the contract be let for two or three years. This, she added, may be considered next year with the bid price remaining the same for the length of the contract.

The splash pad engineer is supposed to be in town Thursday to write specs for the pad. Once this is done the city can advertise for bids, but this will be sometime in late May.

Jamie Hillery, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, reminded the council the annual Chamber banquet will be April 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the new Prescott High School cafeteria. The meal will be catered by the Fish Bowl, with Brad Crain the master of ceremonies. She urged those who plan on attending to let her know as soon as possible as tables are selling out quickly and a packed house is expected.

Poole told those gathered PHS will be hosting the district track meet on April 27 and the state meet on May 2. This, he said, will be good for the community as these events will bring people to Prescott. He reminded everyone of the special school election on May 9 to extend the district’s bonded indebtedness.

Rudy Sullivan addressed the council, during the citizen’s comments, asking about a letter he received telling him to clean up his property. Sullivan admitted operating a junk yard, but said this is the only way he has of making a living because he doesn’t have a job.

Connie Beard, code enforcement officer, said he’s been making progress, adding the issue was brought up at the March meeting by a resident of the area who complained.

Former councilman Wava Fitzhugh, said she lives in the area and Sullivan has put up a privacy fence, while working to clean up his property. “Prescott has more problems than this.”

In the end, Sullivan was told as long as he’s working to correct the problem, there is no time table for getting it done.

The council was also asked to move its meetings from City Hall to the youth center because of overcrowding, and so members of the council could face the public. Oliver said this has been asked before, but the air conditioning unit at the center is out and needs to be repaired.

2 Responses to Council extends burn amendment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *