Residency requirement ordinance scheduled for first reading at Tuesday’s council meeting

An Alderman George Stepps-sponsored ordinance calling for an amendment to existing legislation on residency requirements for municipal department heads is slated to receive its first reading during a Pine Bluff City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

In its current form, Stepps’ proposal — recommended by the council’s administration committee — calls for interim and permanent police and fire chief appointees to be city residents when assuming and during their entire periods of service in the posts. Other department administrators would be required to live within the city only if hired following an enactment of the proposal.

The residency controversy evolved after Mayor Debe Hollingsworth fired former police chief Brenda Davis-Jones and appointed retired Pine Bluff Police Lt. Jeff Eubanks as interim chief on Jan. 1, the mayor’s first day in office. Eubanks resides in Cleveland County.

Hollingsworth had proposed that department heads who live outside the city could continue to do so if they agreed to deduct a set amount from their salaries to compensate the city for some taxes they might pay as local residents.

The meeting is being held Tuesday instead of the normal Monday meeting date because of the Presidents Day holiday.

The council also will hear first readings on ordinances calling for:

• Amending current guidance to provide for council review of planning commission decisions granting applications for uses permitted by review, and

• Adopting the 2009 edition of the International Energy Conservation Code, the 2011 edition of the Arkansas Energy Code for New Buildings Construction Supplements and Amendments, and select ANSI/ASHRA/IESNA Energy Standard for Building codes for city guidance.

Ordinances slated for third and final readings call for:

• Amending current guidance concerning speed breakers or bumps, and

• Amending current guidance to strengthen rules concerning purchases of scrap metal dealers and recyclers.

An ordinance calling for the rezoning of 3.5 acres in Sunset Drive west of Bryant Street is due for a second reading.

Resolutions to be considered call for:

• Authorizing the mayor to apply for an Arkansas Historic Preservation Commission grant and pledging and authorizing matching funds,

• Adopting design guidelines for the downtown historic district,

• Appropriating funds for signal light pole improvements at the intersections of University Drive and Pullen and Fluker Streets,

• Saluting local authors Donna Cunningham and Jimmy Cunningham Jr., and

• Declaring certain houses, buildings and/or structures as nuisances and ordering their abatement.

The meeting will open with a public appeal hearing on a planning commission denial of a request to authorize establishment of an indoor storage and living area at 2610 West 36th Avenue.

The council’s ordinances and resolutions and ways and means committees will meet at 5.