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Full house for Council meeting

Maumelle wrestling coach Ed Viera and Mayor Mike Watson talk in front of the state championship trophy that was recently won by the Hornets. Watson issued a proclamation honoring the team for its state title. The team won the state wrestling championship last year as well. Jeremy Peppas photoBuy Photo
Maumelle wrestling coach Ed Viera and Mayor Mike Watson talk in front of the state championship trophy that was recently won by the Hornets. Watson issued a proclamation honoring the team for its state title. The team won the state wrestling championship last year as well. Jeremy Peppas photo

It was an overflow crowd for the Maumelle City Council meeting on Monday night.

The people were there because of a proposed resolution that would approve a conditional use permit for a fire station inside the city. After a discussion that lasted for more than 90 minutes, the Council decided to push the resolution to April 21.

This was after a competing motion was introduced that would have tabled the resolution indefinitely but it failed 5-3.

The proposed location for the station is on South Odom Boulevard and currently is open, green space.

A total of eight were registered to speak on the station in public comments, and all who spoke were opposed to the measure.

In opening up the discussion Mayor Michael Watson said said he was ready to go forward but with a delay.

“A delay until April 21, would be a little more than 30 days,” Watson said. “So I’m not opposed to 30 days but I do have concerns if it goes longer then that.”

The City Council is scheduled to meet on April 21 and on the agenda for that meeting would be amending the Master Street Plan that would allow for a curb cut that the new station would need.

Delaying the measure also had the support of those who were speaking against the station.

“We want you to delay this” said Alicia Gillen.

The motion to postpone the resolution was made by Ken Saunders and seconded by Rick Anderson.

Watson said the fire department responded to 1,499 calls with 70 percent of those being responding to medical emergencies.

He also said that the city had looked at other locations but the location of the new station was to eliminate the overlap coverage between the city’s two fire stations and would allow for faster response times.

Between now and April 21, Watson said he would look at other properties. One in particular was on Club Manor Drive and would be located in a commercial zone. If the station was located there, it would need approval by the Planning Commission before going to final approval by the City Council.

The station is budgeted to cost $2.4 million, Watson said and was approved in a 2012 bond election. Inside that budgeted amount was $200,00 in contingency funds and that could be used to buy land for the new station.

Watson said that the clock is ticking for the station to be complete. With the bond being approved on Jan. 2, 2013, the station would need to be done or near completion by Jan. 2, 2016. The construction is estimated to be 12 to 16 months, depending on weather conditions, Watson said.

He added that the city could apply for a one-year extension, if needed. Watson said other city projects have applied and received extensions.

The final resolution of the night was in support of Maumelle Water Management’s efforts to become a public water authority.

After a discusson that stretched out over 45 minutes, the resolution passed 7-1 despite vocal opposition from Alderman Steve Mosley, who was the lone no vote.

In other business: An ordinance that would have raised building permit fees, was deadlocked at 4-4 and Watson chose not to vote and the tie stood.

“I think the timing is wrong on this,” Watson said. Watson’s lack of a vote was just as effective as a nay.

Two other old business ordinances moved on to third reading after some discussion by the Council.

In new business, two ordinances on the agenda moved on to second readings.

Watson said the state highway department would be having a meeting at the Jess Odom Center on March 25 to discuss the widening of Interstate 40 and the proposed third exit for the city. The meeting is set to start at 4 p.m. and last for three hours.

The next meeting of the Council will be on March 31.

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