Booneville aldermen rejected a request for rezoning and clarified the status of the police department project during their regular meeting last week.
The board rejected a request from Kerry Lambert to rezone a parcel at the corner of Gaston Road and US Highway 45 from its current A1 Agricultural to C3 Highway Commercial.
Several residents living adjacent to the parcel expressed opposition to the proposal.
Aldermen noted the city’s future-use map designates the location as a future C2 Community Commercial. Under C3 commercial the property could be used for almost any type of business. C2 limits the use to retail or office space.
Ward 1 Alderman Jason Michael made the motion to reject the request to change the property to C3, noting the board has been consistent since the completion of the long-term plan in following the land-use plan and rejecting rezoning requests that would be different from those in the plan. Alderman at Large Lisa Stevens also said she believes in following the plan.
Mayor Chris Lindley noted if Lambert, who was not present at the meeting, wishes to seek rezoning to C2 he would have to begin the legal process again including the placement of signs on the property and advertising in the newspaper and residents would have another opportunity to comment before aldermen make a decision.
Ward 3 Alderman Mark McCoy said he feels like the board would be much more willing to consider a change to C2 since it falls within the designations of the long-term plan.
Board members clarified the process regarding plans to renovate the former Fred’s building into a new Booneville Police Department building. Mayor Chris Lindley explained the process has been delayed because they were unaware of a requirement to place a legal advertisement regarding the amending of the city’s budget for the project.
Aldermen previously approved amending the city budget for a total of $3.5 million including the purchase price of the building all renovations. They would then seek bids from banks on financing the cost of the project which would be paid for by the savings already banked and future savings from not paying rent on the previous police office space used in the county justice center.
The legal advertisement for the budget amendment must run two consecutive weeks before they can begin seeking bids on financing.
Alderman Michael said he wants to make it clear the project is moving forward and the police department will be getting their much-needed new offices.
“This project is going to happen. They deserve it,” he said.
Michael said the current board wanted to see the project complete or nearing completion before the end of their terms at the start of July. Four of the five current board members are not seeking reelection with only Ward 2 Aldermen Jeff Williams, who won his election last week, remaining on the board when new terms begin.
Michael said he hopes as they pass the torch to a new board the new officials will continue the current board’s focus on the future and see the importance of the project to the city.
Mayor Lindley agreed and emphasized the project is going forward.
“Nobody has been let down by anybody. We’re going to have a police department,” he said.
Board members also agreed to consider a future amendment to the city’s hiring policy to possibly allow the hiring of full-time employees for the street department or other departments who do not have a high school diploma or equivalent. Current policy requires all those hired as full-time workers by the city to have graduated high school or hold a GED or the equivalent.
Mayor Chris Lindley said it is extremely difficult to find employees currently and they’ve had several candidates with the proper skills and licenses but without the required education that they were unable to hire full-time.
Board members agreed the issue should be considered and the policy possibly changed to reflect the needs of individual departments instead of having an overall blanket policy.
In other business, the board:
Approved U Grow It We Weed It as the lowest and best bidder at $1,100 per visit for weedeating and mowing of city property including the cemetery, downtown plantings, Peeler Park and other areas. Other bids submitted included Melissa Kinard at $1,100 and Robert Tyes at $1,150.
Approved the creation of a three-way stop at South Bryant, Oak Haven and Pecan at the request of residents seeking to slow down traffic. McCoy cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he wants more information before agreeing to the change.