The annexation by the city of land west of the current city limits along College Street continues to move forward following a vote Tuesday by the Booneville Board of Aldermen.
Board members also moved ahead Tuesday with consideration of a new ordinance setting design standards for future businesses in the city, okayed financing for renovations to the former Fred’s Building into a new city police department and court complex and approved the renaming of the Sunflower Community Center for a dedicated community supporter.
Aldermen voted 3-2 Tuesday to give their final approval to the annexation ordinance. The city is seeking to extend the city limits along College Street to the west side of the College Street/Highway 45 intersection, commonly known as Blackland Crossing.
Ward 1 Alderman Tara Green Lauderdale, Ward 3 Alderman Jimmy Clyde Hicks and Alderman At Large Lavaile Shields voted in favor of the approval. Ward 2 Alderman Jeff Williams and Ward 4 Alderman Carolyn Miller were opposed. Williams said following the meeting he’s concerned about potential costs to the city of providing water, gas, and other services to the proposed annexed area in the future.
The approval now moves the annexation process to Chancery Court. The approved ordinance must be published one time in the legal section of the newspaper. It will then go to chancery court where the ordinance will be filed and a date set for a hearing on the proposal. During that process any adjoining property owner would have the opportunity to file a protest of the annexation and a chancery judge will then consider the proposal and any filings before deciding whether or not to give final approval.
Property owner Harold Knight, who owns several parcels surrounding the Blackland Crossing intersection, has said he has an investor committed to purchasing the property on the southeast corner of the Blackland Crossing intersection where Highway 45 crosses West College Street for construction of a gas station/convenience store/truck stop and he has serious interest from other developers in the other parcels he owns surrounding the intersection.
The board also received a final version of the proposed design guideline ordinance for review on Tuesday. The law requires the board to wait until their next meeting after receiving a final version of an ordinance before taking any action. They will consider adopting the ordinance at their next regular meeting set for 5:30 p.m. December 21 at the Booneville Hardware Building.
Alderman Lauderdale said the ordinance would apply to any new businesses constructed in the city once it passes, but all existing businesses would be grandfathered in under existing rules. The ordinance contains rules for signage and for the appearance of the facades of new businesses.
The board member said the goal of the ordinance is to set a standard for future growth and development and give guidelines to give the community a cohesive and inviting look as the city continues to grow. She said they also want to show a commitment to planned, thoughtful development that will encourage the location of new business and industry in the future.
The board accepted the lone bid for the financing of the police department project from FMBank at 3.5 percent over 20 years for a loan of up to $3.5 million. It has been emphasized the amount is not the estimated cost of the project but rather a ceiling for how much can be spent. With financing approved, the board also approved advertising for bids for the construction of the project. The project will transform the former Fred’s building on Second Street into a new police department and city court complex including police department offices and facilities and a large courtroom for municipal court as well as board meetings and other community meetings.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to rename the Sunflower Community Center as the John Lewis Thompson Community Center. Alderman Williams said Thompson and his wife worked tirelessly at the center in its early days providing breakfast and lunch to students who were out of school during the summer and truly cared for the community and all of the children.
In other business, the board:
approved the rezoning of property at the corner of Chambers Drive and Tuscumbia Road from I-1 light industrial to C-3 Highway Commercial.
accepted the retirement of longtime firefighter Greg Davis effective December 30 and agreed to rehire him part-time after the state-required 90-day waiting period.
approved hiring Ryan Woods as a part-time fireman.
approved seeking quotes to replace flooring at the gas and water office.
approved seeking applications to hire an in-house customer service technician at the gas and water department.
approved hiring Gregory Fowler as a meter-reader in the gas department.
accepted the low quote of $39,750 from Eubanks Construction for the installation of one mile of gas mains on County Road 1250.
approved hiring Bryson Asher as a water crew member.
approved setting the deposit for new water service at $200 for all residential service.
approved advertising for bids for annual supplies.
accepted the only bid received for the replacement of water and gas meters in the city with automated meter reading devices at a total cost of $848,150 from Eubank Construction. It was noted the project will be paid for using COVID relief funds and the city is also seeking grant funding to offset the cost.