The Pine Bluff City Council’s Development and Planning Committee took no action in a Tuesday afternoon meeting on a request for a full council review of a recent ruling by the board of zoning adjustment.
Risie Howard asked for a review of the board’s unanimous Feb. 26 decision to uphold a decision by city Zoning Administrator Lakisha Hill allowing the issuance of a zoning permit for a used car sales lot at 1601 West Second Avenue.
Howard, who resides nearby, told committee chairman Alderman Charles Boyd and Alderman Steven Mays that she’s disputing the zoning of the business site and believes that a car lot is not permitted there. Howard said the car lot “will destroy the character of and bring crime to our neighborhood.”
Howard said about 80 residents of the historic neighborhood had signed a petition, also asking that the car lot not be allowed there. She charged that the owner and developer of the business, Lucky Holman, may have received preferential treatment from Hill based on Holman’s status as a former city employee. Hill denied the assertion.
Howard engaged in several verbal exchanges with Hill, City Planner Jerre George and Assistant City Attorney Joe Childers.
Childers told Howard that since the matter had already been appealed to and decided upon by the zoning adjustment board, her only recourse in the matter was to bring the matter to circuit court, an action she’s already taken. Howard said she had filed for a temporary restraining order to bar additional construction and other work at the site, but the request was denied. Howard maintains that local zoning laws regarding the matter are in conflict and that state law also disagrees with Childers’ opinion that “the council has no authority” in the situation.
Boyd said that while he understood Howard’s and her neighbors’ resistance to the car lot, he felt he had to follow the guidance of city officials. Howard told him that the officials want council members “to feel they have no power over such a matter” while she believes the opposite is actually true.
Howard, who noted that construction at the business site has been at least temporarily halted, said she believes the city has “misrepresented the facts” concerning the issue. Childers reiterated that “by law” the “next step” in the disagreement “is court” and “there’s no recourse with this committee.”
Howard concluded her remarks by saying she wants “a resolution” on zoning from the full council and “will appeal” if she’s not pleased by council action.
The committee also considered permit requests concerning six properties that had either been earmarked for condemnation or disallowed from certain uses based on zoning restrictions. The condemnations were temporarily lifted in favor of limited-time construction permits, and the zoning concerns were opened for additional considerations.