Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

TOP STORY>> Zoning causes concern in Beebe

IN SHORT: Underdeveloped property in proposed annexation area will be zoned commercial if voters approve idea in August.

Leader staff writer

Although Beebe residents were told in previous public meetings that proposed annexation areas would be zoned residential, the city council decided Monday night that all undeveloped property along Highway 64 and 31 and DeWitt Henry Drive will be zoned commercial.

The exception will be land that has been previously zoned industrial. The council agreed to add Davidson Road to the annexation area.

“If it’s along a highway right-of-way, rightfully it should be commercial property,” Alderman Mike Robertson said.

“Living beside commercial property is not all that bad. I live beside Beebe Trailer Sales, and it’s quiet at night. It’s not all bad.”
The city council was poised to pass the ordinance and put it before voters in a July 12 special election. The changes propose Monday night will likely cause the special election’s date be moved to August.

“How do we object to this? If we have property that’s not developed but we don’t want it commercial?” asked a distraught Beebe resident.

“My sisters own property on each side of me and plan to use it as residential.”

Scheel said any resident can petition the council to have property rezoned at any time but doubted residential rezoning would be approved.

“If you decided to rezone it, unless there was a convincing argument, it would be directly opposed to what the council is deciding tonight,” Scheel said.

Robertson added the city’s land-use plan is bound to change some.

The council will add Davidson Road to the annexation area in response to a request by Kelton Keathley. He said he owns about 60 usable acres on Davidson Road. He described the city’s annexation proposal as ‘piecemeal.’

“Let’s face it, the city is looking for area and the city is looking for revenue. You’re not getting 26 homes in your annexation out there,” Keathley said. He supported the council’s decision to zone undeveloped property as commercial.

“I’m going to be honest with you. You bring my land in as residential, I’m going to put in a subdivision. It’s the last piece of good industrial property around Beebe. You know it and I know it,” he said.

Jason Scheel, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, told the council they have a one-year window to address zoning after the ordinance passes to have the areas match the city’s land-use plan.

In the Economic Development Commission report, Marjorie Armstrong discussed a meeting with Stuart Dalrymple, developer of the southeast corner of the new Pecan Street exit. He would like to develop about two acres of the property into multi-family housing.
“I asked him to get me more information on what they would look like and what the rental price would be. I don’t think any of us want to see low-rent apartment buildings right there in view of the interstate. But if it’s a good development, it might be in Beebe’s best interest,” Armstrong said.

Robertson begged to differ.

“I disagree with any multi-family housing out next to the exits. Retail outlets is the route we need to help our tax base,” Robertson said.