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Church seeks more land; resident wants to go solar

By Staff, 11/19/19 9:48 AM

PRESCOTT – Representatives from Park Baptist Church basically asked the Prescott City Council to give it city-owned land at the council’s November meeting Monday night.

Michelle Glass, representing the church, said Robert Poole had addressed the council previously about the church’s interest in land behind the church that was once the city park. The city had the land appraised and offered to sell the property to the church for the appraised price of $9,690.

Glass told the panel she’d done some research and found the city owns three lots between the church’s fellowship hall and the bike shop, adding, the church is interested in these lots as well and would like for them to be included in the sale of the other land at no extra cost. In the past there were questions of who owned the land in question.

She said the church is growing and will need to expand soon. The problem, though, according to Glass, is there are several liens against this property and it would cost $50,000 to get clear title to it.

City Attorney Glenn Vasser said these liens don’t affect those lots. He told Glass he wasn’t aware of any certified indebtedness referring to any liens on the property, other than ones dealing with revenue producing utilities.

Poole was also present for the meeting and said the church is limited on funds and can’t take on any liens.

Vasser agreed to look into the situation and have the lots appraised. Perry Nelson, superintendent of the water and sewer department reminded the council there’s a sewer line running under the land and the city must have right-of-way access to those lines.

Jacob Brown was on hand to ask the council to adopt an ordinance so he could go solar at his home and business. Brown told the panel he was hit with three electric bills over the summer adding up to more than $1,500, which is why he looked into going solar.

Larry Jones, Jr., said he’s looked into the ordinance North Little Rock has dealing with solar energy, adding it’s a complicated process. Should the city allow residents to install solar panels and the residents overproduce, the city will either have to purchase the added electricity at a dollar-for-dollar amount, to give those using solar power credit for when their solar cells don’t produce enough electricity to meet their needs, or to pay them at less than a 1:1 amount as the city is required to pay transmission fees, while resident’s wouldn’t be.

Utility companies, he said, are saying it’s not fair for them to pay 1:1 for electricity from those using solar energy as they’ve had to foot the bill for all of the infrastructure.

Brown said if the amount involved isn’t reasonable, there’d be no point in him going solar.

Vasser said he’s looking at the North Little Rock ordinance, and reminded the council Hope also has an ordinance dealing with solar energy.

Brown said he wants to continue living and having his business in Prescott.

The discussion went back and forth with Councilman Ivory Curry saying the ordinance needs to be fair to the city and residents, but a 1:1 deal isn’t fair to the city.

Brown said he’d be fine getting credit, but doesn’t want to pay any more $500 electric bills. He told the council the company he’s dealing with said the solar panels he’s looking at would provide 85 percent of what he needs and he’d have to get the remaining 15 percent from the city.

No action was taken and the matter was tabled until more information could be gathered.

In other business, Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office asked for, and received, permission to apply for a grant from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission in the amount of $50,000 to do repairs to the roof of the sawmill at the old Potlatch property. She showed a booklet, developed by Hostetler Roofing, with photos of the damage and what the total repair cost would be. In all, she said, it would take $158,000 to fix the roof. She asked if the grant is approved if the city could put the rest in the 2020 budget.

Godwin pointed out if the roof isn’t repaired, the building will eventually be lost.

Jamie Hillery, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, provided the council with the Chamber’s upcoming holiday schedule. The annual Christmas parade and Christmas on the Square will be Dec. 5, while Breakfast with Santa is set for Dec. 14. She said 200 gift boxes for children have already been made up to be distributed at Breakfast with Santa.

Hillery said the Chamber’s Mingle and Jingle event was a success with around 120 people showing up each night. This event, she added, allows home-based businesses a chance to show what they have to offer for the holiday season and get public exposure.

She reminded the panel of the ribbon cutting for the Tiffany Cagle Boutique Thursday at 9 a.m..

Hillery also told the council she’d contacted the Arkansas Highway Department and got them to put “No Littering” signs on the roads at Loves and TA.