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NLR poised to commit $500,000 to street overlay program in 2013

North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith is fulfilling one of the promises or pledges that 2012 mayoral candidate Joe Smith made during last year’s campaign: To put money aside for street repairs.

At the Jan. 28 meeting of the North Little Rock City Council, Smith announced he would ask aldermen at the council’s first meeting in February to approve appropriations totaling $500,000 for a street overlay program.

“So that would be $125,000 per ward,” Smith said. “There will be legislation for everyone to vote on at the next meeting.”

Council will meet again at 7 p.m. on Monday.

Smith said he made his decision following discussions with City Finance Director Bob Sessions who recently evaluated city tax collections for 2012.

“We finished out the year fairly good with money in our reserves,” Smith said.

In other council business, council members on Jan. 28 were asked to condemn a vacant building located at 6623 Highway 70, declaring it a public nuisance.

Aldermen were also approached during the meeting by building owner Scott Westerman of Sherwood who asked the council for more time to fix up the structure.

“You guys are not giving me enough time to get this complete,” Westerman said. “I am asking for a little more time. In intend to put some decking on the roof. I will tear it off and put a new roof on it.”

Council members were advised that city code enforcement representatives had spoken with Westerman who committed to a plan to rehabilitate the building.

Alderwoman Linda Robinson said people living in the neighborhood see the structure as an eyesore and have asked to have it condemned.

In a letter provided to Alderman, City Code Enforcement Officer Felecia McHenry said the property has been vacant since 2005.

“The owner has not made an attempt to make any repairs to the property,” the council was advised in a Dec. 21 letter. “The structure has visible roof damage, broken windows, etc.”

Alderwoman Debi Ross asked Westerman if he has done any work recently to the building.

“I have done a few things on the inside but nothing on the outside,” Westerman said.

Ross said, “In the rehab agreement, can it be a part of it that the building not be turned into an establishment,” meaning a club selling alcohol.

City Planning Director Robert Voyles said the property owner would have the right to see a liquor permit. Voyles added the city would have the option of approaching state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board asking the governing body not to approve a liquor license.

“Could he get it rezoned for an alcohol permit?” asked Smith. “Could he renovate it and turn it into a private club, and the (ABC) board approve it?”

Voyles responded, “Yes.”

Alderwoman Beth White asked Westerman what his plans were for the building. The building owner responded, “I want to use it to sore some of my construction supplies. My wife may want to open a flea market. We are thinking about that.”

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