Mailboxes destroyed by speeding cars, pets killed by careless drivers, and other vexations of heavy traffic were told of at the April 16 City Council meeting, by residents challenging a planned subdivision along St. John Street.
About an hour of sometimes-heated discussion led to the Council tabling the rezoning of the land to the next Council meeting, an action that could end the plans warned a real estate agent.
City council members Ed Long, Ann Gilliam, Rick Prentice, Ron Waymack, Norma Naquin, Damon Bivens and Doug Warner attended the meeting, presided by Mayor Bill Cypert.
Monday’ second reading of the rezoning request for more than 5 acres alongside St. John Street brought renewed concerns of traffic problems.
The requested zoning change could bring more than 140 residences to the area.
According to the plans, the lot is a reversed “L” shape, beginning behind the Dollar General site at St. John and South Second streets. The south side borders St. John Street, the west end abuts the yards of homes on South 10th Street, and the north end extends to Chapel Ridge apartments.
At the March 19 Council meeting, Long asked for a traffic count on St. John Street, noting that the neighborhood is already experiencing problems as increasingly more drivers use South Tenth and St. John to avoid portions of West Main and South Second streets.
On Monday, Public works director Danny Clem reported on three traffic counts conducted March 26 - 27, April 5-6, and April 11-12, he said. In remarks, he noted that the street should be able to cope with up to 2,000 vehicles per day.
Clem said the counts for March 26 and 27, done by electronic measurement, showed 1,591 vehicles; 5 p.m. was the time of heaviest traffic, with 175 vehicles, as well as 7 a.m. and noon being high count times.
Lane counts in front of 17 St. John showed a total of 1,715 vehicles using the street, with a second lane showing 1,343 vehicles, Clem said. At the same times, Collin Street, which joins St. John, showed 537 vehicles using that street, he said.
The other counts showed similar results.
A speed device set up at the street showed that most of the cars traveled at 21 to 25 mph, with a high of about 40, Clem said.
Prentice challenged the speed finding, saying it is natural for drivers to slow when they see the device, and during public comment, residents also said the finding was low, estimating that speeds of up to 60 mph were more likely.
Long remarked that his concern is residents who are already dealing with traffic caused by a shortcut through town that was never intended.
Before the vote to table the action, real estate agent Patty Knox, who is managing the property, asked the Council to consider the affect additional delay would have on the project. There are time constraints for the project, and even the delay of an additional reading could mean the end of it, she warned.
In other city council actions:
Council members approved, with Prentice and Waymack voting against, to redirect funds paid to the city for shale for the north interchange, excavated from the Lonoke County Regional Park area, to Parks and Recreation. The park area is city property.
Funds in the checking account established for the sales, now totaling $160,705.97, would be divided with $153,032 to the city street fund to cover the cost of lighting the North Interchange, and the remainder going to Parks and Recreation.
The city would agree to pay about $6,400 per month, for 24 months, to the Parks and Recreation Commission, with funds from future shale sales going directly to Parks and Recreation.
Third readings of two rezoning actions, for 2170 W. Main St. tracts A and B, were tabled to resolve description differences between city and county records. Naquin pointed out that the owners’ names and land sizes differed between county records and that noted on the proposed ordinances.
Confusion of the proper means to correct the disparities led to the Council voting to table the matter to the May 21 Council meeting for the corrections to be made to the ordinance.
Rezoning 600 Cherry St. lots 1-6 of the Walthall Addition, from R-1 To R-4M, was approved.
The amendment to Cabot’s Master Street Plan, modifying the requirement for Council members approved the first reading of an ordinance to levy a $20 fee in district court, to be applied to city jail expenses.