Fort Smith Directors address hunting, jobs and alcohol

story by Ryan Saylor
rsaylor@thecitywire.com

The Tuesday night (Feb. 5) meeting of the Fort Smith Board of Directors saw votes in favor of urban hunting and bringing to jobs to Fort Smith, and talk about expanding the city limits to promote liquor sales.

The Board of Directors repeated their vote affirming urban hunting by the same margins as their Jan. 15 meeting.

The vote, which authorizes hunting using only bows and arrows in tree stands at least 10 feet off the ground, was 4-3.

Directors voting in the affirmative were André Good, Keith Lau, Mike Lorenz and Kevin Settle. George Catsavis, Phillip Merry and Pam Weber voted against the measure.

Weber said she was not in favor of the ordinance for a variety reasons, from public safety to the image hunting within city limits projects to outsiders.

"Is this really want we want our city to project," she asked. "We set policy. We need to set policy that projects a different image of our city. To me, this is just not the image that I want."

Weber also raised concerns about the proximity of deer stands to residences.

"To me, there are some safety concerns if there is a deer stand 150 feet from a residence," she said. "Some of these places where we have deer hunting are in areas of our city that are growing and growing fast and some of our most economically developing areas right now. If I'm showing a young professional property in that area, I don't want to have to explain to them about deer hunting. I'd rather it be about trails, hiking and recreational facilities in that area."

In order to become law, the ordinance will have to be approved again for a third time at the next board of directors meeting since it failed to receive five votes in favor of passage.

UMAREX INCENTIVES
The Board also unanimously passed a resolution endorsing Umarex USA Inc. to participate in the Tax Back Program.

The resolution stated that Umarex would be able to receive a rebate of local sales and use taxes.

Ward 1 Director Keith Lau said endorsing the tax back program would allow Umarex to expand its facility in Fort Smith and would provide the area with an additional 127 jobs.

"It's a great program," Lau said. "It supports economic development. They're going to see an expansion of the plant and that means jobs."

Vice Mayor Kevin Settle said programs such as the tax back program encourage job creation.

"We get asked from the public what can the city do to bring jobs, create jobs," he said. "This is one of those avenues that we can do, we can do infrastructure but we can also do tax cutting programs."

ALCOHOL ANNEXATION
During Tuesday's meeting, Settle also proposed exploring an annexation of certain land along the under-construction sections of Interstate 49 as a way to reach Barling residents who desire to have alcohol served in their city.

Settle told directors offering to annex property on the outskirts of the city would be a way to extend "an olive branch" to citizens of Barling, who overwhelming passed a ballot initiative authorizing liquor sales in their city. The ballot initiative is being challenged in court, meaning Barling is still without alcohol sales.

Settle said the proposed annexation would be contiguous with the city of Fort Smith.

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No action was taken on the proposed exploration at Tuesday's meeting.

OTHER BUSINESS
• The Board approved an amendment to the Master Land Use Plan map, rezoning property located at 12901-13035 Highway 71 South from extraterritorial jurisdiction open-1 to extraterritorial jurisdiction commericial-3.

• The Board approved a resolution that would add an additional priority for the 2013 session of the Arkansas General Assembly to include adding a definition of the word "meeting" to the public meetings requirement of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

• In the consent agenda, the following resolutions were approved: Accepting as complete and authorizing final payment to T-G Excavating Inc. for construction of the 2011 Sanitary Sewer Improvements, Phase 1 at a cost of $206,611.27; a resolution authorizing acquisition of an easement in connection with the Chaffee Crossing Water Supply Improvements - Geren Road and Massard Road Water Line Project at a cost of $20,790; and a resolution authorizing Change Order No. 1 with T-G Excavating for the Basic 11-1 Collection System Improvements at a cost of $59,385.

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Comments

The whole purpose

The entire purpose of Barling wanting to have the ability for liquor sales within their city limits is to increase tax revenue and prepare for the probable growth after the completion of I-49. Annexing the land to Fort Smith would not accomplish Barling's true objectives unless Barling is to get a cut of the tax revenue in order to grow and improve the city. Barling is being screwed by an outdated "law" and a bunch of people who continue to want to halt progress in the River Valley. The little boy-wonder lawyer (from Greenwood I believe?) who is making a big deal about it should be ashamed of himself. The only thing he's trying to do is make a name for himself. Very sad.
The entire purpose of Barling wanting to have the ability for liquor sales within their city limits is to increase tax revenue and prepare for the probable growth after the completion of I-49. Annexing the land to Fort Smith would not accomplish Barling's true objectives unless Barling is to get a cut of the tax revenue in order to grow and improve the city. Barling is being screwed by an outdated "law" and a bunch of people who continue to want to halt progress in the River Valley. The little boy-wonder lawyer (from Greenwood I believe?) who is making a big deal about it should be ashamed of himself. The only thing he's trying to do is make a name for ...>> Read the entire comment.

Not him

He is not trying to do anything. He is representing his clients to the best of his ability and won. Contrary to popular belief, the case belongs to the clients and they searched out for the attorney. The attorney doesn't start the process. The Court is enforcing a law as it is supposed to be enforced. If the Court did otherwise, people would scream judicial activism. As to it being outdated, remember the basis for many of the laws and rights we take for due course are directly rooted in principles from England in the 1500s. Nothing is outdated until it is changed by legislation or supreme court.

Just get it over with

The continued emphasis upon expanding Fort Smith into new territory while leaving its old territory to deteriorate is obvious. Just get it over with, don't prolong the agony, just move municipal offices out of old downtown to the new uptown, crosstown near Chafee Crossing. Heck, the taxpayers are paying rent for the downtown location anyway. No equity being accumulated there.

Sadly

"expanding Fort Smith into new territory while leaving its old territory to deteriorate" -- true, and nobody much cares or understands why Fort Smith has a negative image.

Young professionals Pam?

Perhaps it would be better also to try and not look at everything from a realtors point of view. It's almost like a four wheeler sped by us on the way to look at a house 40 years ago.

spite driven votes

How sad to think you're more worried about selling a house having to explain urban hunting than you are comforting a constituent coping with a fatal car crash resulting from a running deer. Wasn't it last month you were worried about child safety? I guess you changed that protest when the statistic was quoted: Arkansas ranks ninth in the nation in the likelihood of collisions between vehicles and deer, up from 14th in the nation a year ago. Your protests seem to be with finding reasons to not agree with Kevin Settle. State Farm estimated that the odds of an Arkansas motorist hitting a deer in the next 12 months are 1 in 102.5 What are the odds of you selling a house in Chaffee Crossing?

Kevin Settle

Most people,including Mr. Settle, do not understand the law pertaining to liquor, dry counties and elections. This matter is not wet/dry.The integrity of the election is the issue.

Cripeys!

The man simply said let's open a dialogue. You can sure tell how stuck in a rut this town is by the reaction to the mere sheer suggestion of an out of the box discussion.