Plans for Cabot’s last commercial corridor were forwarded Monday by the public works committee to the city council for consideration of adoption. "I think this is going to be a real good corridor," planning commission chairman James Reid told ciy council members Monday. The plan was explained to the City Council public works committee at the meeting.
Tuesday’s meeting was also the first fully digital session, with aldermen learning how to use tablet computers instead of the often-inches-thick, bound meeting books. Each committee was given a wi-fi capable Samsung Galaxy Note. City operations director Eddie Cook had promoted the tablet computers to do away with the bound books.
Cook said that based on about $15 per alderman for each city council meeting, the cost savings in not producing the bound meeting packets would recoup the cost of the computers within a single two-year term for an alderman.
Possibly the last commercial corridor to be defined for Cabot was approved by the city public works committee for consideration by the full city council at the Dec. 16 meeting. Also considered during the meeting of the city council agenda meeting held Monday.
Aldermen Ed Long, Ann Gilliam, Angie Jones, Dallan Buchanan, Ryan Flynn, Jon Moore and Kevin Davis attended the meeting; Rick Prentice was absent.
Mayor Bill Cypert addressed the committee on some issues.
The agenda meeting is the combined meetings of the city budget and personnel, public works and fire and police committees. The meeting sets the agenda items for the upcoming council meetings.
Reid presented the Second Street Corridor Plan. "I think this is going to be a real good corridor," he said.
Second Street is the last of the major arterial streets to be set out in a plan, Reid said.
Second Street, now Arkansas Highway 367 was formerly Highway 67 until the new highway was built, Reid pointed out.
The corridor is considered in two sections, from Main Street south to Cut Hill, north to the junction of Arkansas Highway 38.
Traffic in the Second Street Corridor has increased about 70 percent in ten years, and is expected to continue increasing, possibly another 25 percent by 2030, Reid said.
The corridor is going to be a large part of how the city grows, Reid said. With the North Interchange in the immediate future, and a proposed central interchange, between Exits 16 and 19, in long-range plans, the corridor is going to be a major hub for the city, he said.
Richie Road would be extended to connect with U.S. 67/167 at the central interchange, Reid said.
Cypert said there are a total of five interchanges planned for Cabot, beginning at Coffelt Road, the current Exits 16 and 19, the north interchange about to be built, and the proposed central interchange.
"That’s a long way down the road, for the center interchange," Reid said.
Plans for more than five years in the future see Second Street as a four-lane road, Reid said. "When we are looking at plans like this, we are looking 20-40 years out."
There will probably be a mix of commercial and residential in the western section, most likely planned unit developments, Reid said. "That’s a big mass of land we can work with out there," he said.
The committee members voted to send the corridor to the full council for consideration. Long pointed out that the plan would be presented as a resolution, which would not require three readings — the plan could be approved in a single meeting.
The plan addresses land-use, transportation, and re-development issues in the corridor area. The plan covers an area of about 2,600 acres or about four square miles,.
The Second Street corridor is the city’s historic primary corridor, as the previous route of U.S. Highway 67 before the freeway was constructed. The road remains significant to the city, though secondary to other developing corridors in the city.
Traffic studies show that the traffic has increased in 10 years — from between 5,800-6,500 vehicles per day in 2003 to 9,900 — 11,000 in 2012, a 70 percent increase.
Most of the corridor south of the downtown area is already "built out," except for a few undeveloped tracts at the end of Richie Road.
The plan postulates that future businesses on Second Street will not be dependent on through traffic, such as restaurants and certain retail operations.
The industrial area near Richie Road will likely change from industrial to commercial over time, as is already being seen.
The plan notes, "There are several aging manufactured home developments along the corridor which serve to blight the surrounding properties."
Three goals are set out in the plan — to build and maintain a solid foundation for community growth and development; to enhance the corridor and provide land use patterns suitable for the corridor; and to preserve the functioning and safety of the corridor.
The plan sets out a number of policies to ensure the goals, such as zoning patterns, discouraging development in areas that will require inefficient and costly outlays of municipal funds to provide utilities; control the extension or provision of utilities; preserve existing floodplains; encourage the redevelopment of existing industrial areas to commercial use; and reviewing development applications for compliance with landscaping regulations.
In other matters, the personnel committee approved the reappointment of Clint McGue to the Public Housing Authority.