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2 property owners could face lawsuit from Benton

August 7, 2014

Benton City Council's Community Services/Animal Control Committee members are recommending that the city sue the property owners at 1116 Alcoa Road for ongoing code violations.

During the session, City Attorney Brent Houston noted that Jim Towe, the city's community development department supervisor, has been working with the property owners for some time.

Towe requested that the city take legal action in the matter, Houston said.

He said a letter was sent to the owners requesting their presence at Wednesday's meeting, but they did not attend.

Houston stated that the property does not comply with the city's nuisance ordinance stipulations and that remedying the problem could involve tearing down the structure. Additionally, it was mentioned by Towe that the structure contains asbestos and the homeowners would need to get the structure abated prior to razing it.

In other business, the committee voted to recommend that the council waive the city's noise ordinance for the Amplify Music Festival that will take place on Holland Chapel Baptist Church property during the Labor Day weekend.

Amplify is a free two-day concert that will feature top Christian artists. Additionally, food and clothing vendors will be present along with inflatables and activities for children.

The committee voted to accept county hazardous materials and decontamination equipment from the county and transfer the equipment to the city.

Fire Chief Bill Ford said the county was provided the equipment from the federal government in 2004. "A lot of it is outdated," he said.

Currently, the equipment is in the possession of the county but officials want to give it to the city, Ford said.

"There is stuff we could use," the chief said.

The county already passed an ordinance allowing for the transfer of the equipment. In response to a question from Alderman Bill Donnor, Ford said he does want the equipment.

The committee agreed to sign the ordinance with the county to accept the equipment.

The committee also agreed to accept a pre-annexation request for the Phase 3 construction of the Maples subdivision. A resolution will come before the full council for a vote.

"This is not something you see all the time," Houston said.

If approved, the resolution would legally bind the property owners and the city. The city would be required to provide utility service to the property and the property owners would be required to annex into the city of Benton at the time that the property borders city limits.

Such agreements have been made in the past, including Phase 2 of the Maples subdivision.

The committee agreed to add two additional items to the agenda. The first was a request from Ford to survey a site on Arkansas 5 that he and Mayor David Mattingly hope will become the location of a new fire station.

Houston said a survey protects the city's interests and would confirm the amount of property actually located at the site.

This property could become the first combined fire and police structure in Benton, Houston noted.
The cost of the surrey will come from the mayor's budget.

Finally, the committee agreed to present an ordinance to the council to hold a public hearing on behalf of Jeff Harrison, who wants develop a trail on Dixie Street in the Ralph Bunche Community.

Harrison sued the city five years ago after trying to develop the road without permission. He was told then that if he planned to build a road, it would have to meet the standards set by the city.

The court ruled in favor of the city.

Harrison then went to the county and said he did not have proper access to his property and requested authority to build a private roadway. His petition was denied by the county, with officials telling him he had sufficient access.

Harrison is now asking the city to abandon the street's right of way. Such matters require a public hearing .
If any adjoining property owners object to the abandonment of the right of way, the city cannot abandon it, Houston explained. The city is not obligated to abandon the right of way, he said, even if no adjoining property owners object.

The committee will present a resolution to the council requesting the hearing.

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