Greenwood’s City Council met on Monday, June 3. Mike Hamby, the City Attorney was on vacation, so Mayor Del Gabbard advised that all issues requiring a legal opinion be put in writing to be forwarded to his office.
Gabbard also announced that Gary Grimes, the lobbyist for Greenwood to Little Rock, has resigned. The reasons stated involved events during the May 23 Annexation Committee meeting. During that meeting, it was hinted at by a resident of the Been Ridge area that Grimes was responsible for a recent change in State law allowing more flexibility in a City’s annexation methods. Mayor Gabbard requested that each member of the City Council call Grimes and ask him to reconsider. Steve Ratterree made a public apology to Gary Grimes for not personally defending Grimes at that meeting.
During his report from the Parks Commission, Ratterree also brought forth a request for approval to approach Vache Grasse and begin discussions about the City of Greenwood taking over operation and responsibility for their swimming pool. It was determined that Ratterree and Tim Terry would approach them together in a discovery capacity and then report back to the Council.
Pastor Ronnie Deal approached the Council to discuss an issue involving the paving of a sidewalk at the First Baptist Church. When the church repaved a parking lot, part of the sidewalk was paved with it. "In no way were we trying to go against anyone or trying to override someone. We were really trying to be a good neighbor," Deal explained. The original sidewalk was in disrepair and Pastor Deal reported that he has heard many compliments on the improvement. After a lengthy discussion, it was determined that Deal would submit a variance request outlining what the First Baptist Church would do to help the City of Greenwood rebuild that section of sidewalk to the requirements of the City.
An ordinance establishing commercial development guidelines in Greenwood was approved on its third and final reading Monday by the City Council.
The guidelines are described in the ordinance as a "reference framework to assist an applicant in understanding the city’s goals and objectives for high-quality development."
"We have to start somewhere," Planning Director Sonny Bell said. "This is the backbone of commercial guidelines."
At nearly 30 pages, the guidelines touch upon categories that include building materials, color palettes and design elements among many others.
A list of "undesirable elements" includes highly reflective surfaces, metal siding on the main facade, plastic siding, square "boxlike" structures and large, out-of-scale signs with "flashy colors."
According to the ordinance, the new guidelines "are general and may be interpreted with some flexibility in their application to specific projects."
It goes on to say that the city will refer to the guidelines during its review of new commercial projects.
"Noncompliance to these guidelines may be grounds for denial of a project," the ordinance states.
Bell used a discount store in town as an example of a building that would not be approved under the new guidelines.
"We’ve got a box-like building sitting up behind CV’s pointing in the opposite direction of our traffic flow," he said. "With these commercial guidelines, those types of businesses would not be allowed to be put in that position. It would have been turned down; you wouldn’t be driving across a parking lot to get to a parking lot."
Councilman Craig Hamilton, who voted against the measure, described portions of the ordinance as "ambiguous and subjective."
Mayor Del Gabbard requested a study session before approval after learning that not all councilmen had read the entire proposal.
"If it’s all the same to you guys, I’m not really thrilled with this," Gabbard said. "I’d like very much to have a study session and table it for one more month. There are a lot of things in here I believe we need as a city to go through page by page."
The council adopted the ordinance 5-1.
"It’s like (Bell) said, these are guidelines, and we’ve got to start somewhere," Councilman A.C. Brown said. "I think we’ve put it off long enough."
The ordinance’s first and second readings were held April 1 and May 6 respectively.
During a presentation from Sonny Bell amending an ordinance to reduce the distance between fire hydrants, Chief Stewart Bryan explained that this reduction would help the fire department better protect the citizens of Greenwood as well as reduce the ISO rating of Greenwood. He also pointed out that there are areas in Greenwood that do not currently meet fire code, including East Pointe Elementary. "They only have two fire hydrants up there," he went on to say.
A request was also made to approve the replacing of the chain link fence behind the Street Department. It was severely damaged during a recent storm and now poses a potential security risk. It was decided that quotes would be obtained for different options and the fence would be replaced as soon as possible.
Chief Will Dawson reported that the Police Department received 171 calls last month. There were 21 motor vehicle accidents and 36 arrests. Police officers wrote 101 citations and 170 warnings. Dawson also requested that Greenwood bring back the Animal Control Department. After a short discussion, it was decided that the Mayor would look into adding an employee to the Administrative Department to fill this need. Chief Dawson also reported that the Greenwood School District wants to add another School Resource Officer and he is in the process of securing funding for this new officer.