Council passes fencing ordinance

City residents living in R-4 [medium density] zoned residential areas can now legally install chain link fencing in their front yards after the Pine Bluff City Council approved a measure Monday evening that grants them permission to do so.

The ordinance, sponsored by Ward 1 Alderwoman Thelma Walker, also gives citizens living in other residential zoned areas of the city the right to come before the Board of Zoning Adjustment to plead their case.

“The Board shall not grant permission unless it shall conclude that the chain link fence will not detract from the character of the surrounding neighborhood or diminish property values therein,” the ordinance reads.

In other business the council approved a resolution sponsored by Ward 3 Alderman Glen Brown that appropriates $3,146 in matching funds to secure a grant for Grider Field from the Arkansas Aeronautical Commission.

“The City Council already appropriated $10,000 in matching funds for the grant but costs ended up being greater than estimated, which is why we need the supplemental appropriation,” Grider Field Manager Doug Hale said at the meeting. “The grant will pay for improvements to the airport.”

The council passed a resolution sponsored by Ward 4 Alderman Steven Mays and Ward 3 Alderman Bill Brumett authorizing the mayor to enter into a $106,5000 agreement with Crafton Tull/Nelson Architecture Group for professional services relating to the multipurpose center and aquatics facility.

“We have completed phase one of our project assessment, which was to select a project architect,” Economic and Community Development Department Director Larry Matthews said in the Ways and Means Committee meeting immediately before the council meeting.

The resolution said the work to be performed under the agreement includes surveying, civil engineering, landscape architecture and site master planning, and project reimbursables.

The council approved a pair of resolutions that call upon the Arkansas Municipal League to include as legislative priorities a proposal for the General Assembly to increase the cap on millage that local governments may assess to fund local police and fire pension plans; and a proposal for the General Assembly to amend a section of Arkansas Code to permit a municipality to contract with outside entities for the collection and disbursement of funds.

“These are both simply recommendations to the league for the 2015 legislative session,” Finance Department Director Steve Miller said. “Any further action on a local level would require additional council votes. The millage increase would give communities in the state more leeway in funding options for pension plans. The issue of outside entities has to do with things like the use of an outside payroll company for city employees. The city is currently in such an agreement with ADP. The recommendation is to allow municipalities the freedom to enter into more of these types of agreements if they make financial sense.”