Easterly seeks special election on nightclub hours

Pine Bluff Alderman Wayne Easterly is calling for a May 20 special election that would give voters a chance to have their say in deciding whether private clubs serving alcohol should be forced to close earlier.

Easterly’s proposal, part of an ordinance that is scheduled for a first reading at Monday’s Pine Bluff City Council meeting, comes on the heels of a sister ordinance also sponsored by Easterly that asks the council to amend the law concerning the closing hours of private clubs serving alcohol if the voters in the special election vote to do so. That ordinance is due for a second reading Monday.

“Arkansas law provides a means for receiving and implementing the will of the electors of the city by referring to them the question of hours of operation of private clubs,” the newest proposed legislation reads in part. “There is hereby called a special election for Tuesday, May 20, 2014, on the question of the approval of an amendment to Section 4-3 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.”

The special election would coincide with party primaries being held May 20 in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County.

Easterly, who represents Ward Two, said in the city council’s Jan. 21 meeting that he decided to introduce the ordinances after hearing from constituents who wanted a say on the matter.

“The voters have told us that they want to have the opportunity to vote on this issue,” Easterly said during the Jan. 21 meeting. “If this ordinance is approved by the council, then we plan to call a special election that will coincide with the primaries in May. This way, we will be able to avoid the added cost that is normally associated with a special election.”

In other business Monday, the Council will consider on second reading an ordinance sponsored by Ward One Alderwoman Thelma Walker, Ward Three Alderman Glen Brown and Ward Four Alderman George Stepps that would require all city employees hired after the beginning of the year to live within the Pine Bluff city limits.

“No person shall be employed by the City of Pine Bluff after December 31, 2013, who is not a resident of the city at the time his or her employment commences,” the legislation reads in part. “All employees on the city payroll as of December 31, 2013, are exempt from the residency requirements of this ordinance.”

An ordinance sponsored by Ward Four Alderman Steven Mays up for its third and final reading would see the city accept an offer from Richard Ratliff of Ratliff Enterprises to convey property that includes a warehouse at 1400 W. Fourth Ave.

“Mr. Ratliff has expended $15,000 upgrading and cleaning the warehouse facility,” the legislation reads in part. “The mayor is authorized to acquire the realty and improvements with the address of 1400 W. 4th Avenue from Mr. Richard Ratliff for a consideration of $15,000, representing Mr. Ratliff’s expenditures in improving the property.”

The council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday in council chambers at city hall.