Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

TOP STORY >> Controversy on Elm Street could find its way in court

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

The proposed opening of Elm Street in Cabot could soon have the city in court.

The city wants to buy about a quarter acre from Larry Nipper to build the 40-foot wide roadway that would reportedly keep a lot of traffic off Hwy. 89. The land appraised at $18,600 as residential property, but Nipper had it rezoned commercial and it later appraised for $60,000.
The city council Monday voted to offer $66,000, but Nipper said two different appraisers told him that was not enough. He asked for $85,000, which the council refused to pay.

The city already owns a right of way for the street, but the mayor and many on the council agree that it is too crooked.

Nipper said he bought his lot 33 years ago because he believed it would be worth a lot as commercial property when Elm opened.
“Y’all are voting tonight to deprive me of what I’ve been waiting for all these years,” he told the council, which voted 6-1 to offer $66,000 and no more.

Alderman Jerry Stephens voted against the offer.

He questioned the necessity of opening the street.
Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh said he regretted that the next step would be to take the property through eminent domain but he honestly believed that opening the street was in the best interest of the residents of Cabot.

Nipper told the council that taking the sale to court would end up costing the city more than the $85,000 he asked for.
In other business, the council turned down the low bid for a copier contract Monday night in favor of the next lowest bid, which came from a local business.

Alderman David Polantz led the discussion that ended with Cabot Office Machines receiving a $74,490, five-year contract to provide the city with five copiers. The lowest bid of $71,760 for the same service was submitted by Copy Systems, a Little Rock company.

Polantz said in a later interview that he has always believed that when bids are separated by only two or three percent, it is better to go with a Cabot company.

“These are the people who pay the money we spend every month,” Polantz said.

Alderman Eddie Cook ab-stained from voting when the council turned down Copy System’s bid 4-2. Aldermen James Glenn and Patrick Hutton Cook voted to give the contract to the Little Rock company.

Cook said later that the owner of Cabot Office Machines is a personal friend, and even though he is in favor of using local businesses when possible, he didn’t want to appear biased against the Little Rock company.

The council then voted unanimously among the seven aldermen present to give the contract to the Cabot company.

Alderman Odis Waymack, in Bermuda with his wife, Barbara, for their 50th wedding anniversary, did not attend the meeting.
Also in other business, the council voted against allowing a driveway on Hwy. 367 across from Steeplechase Apartments.

The request came from Jim Hensley, an attorney who plans to build a 6,000 square-foot office in a five-acre commercial development.
Council members and Police Chief Jackie Davis said accidents were already a problem there because of a nearby hill.