Members of the Van Buren City Council on Monday night unanimously voted down an appeal of a rezone request denied by the planning commission.
However, the council members recommended Todd Mooney and Steve Gann of M&G Development LLC return to the planning commission with the new proposal presented to the council Monday.
Council member Alan Swaim suggested M&G return to the planning commission at its March meeting. Tyler Wood, Jim Petty, Mike Kneeland and Darral Sparkman agreed as did Mayor Bob Freeman. Council member David Moore was absent.
M&G had sought to rezone property at 106 S. 40th St. (at the corner of Kibler Road and South 40th) from Residential 5 to Residential 3.
The planning commission denied the request on Nov. 7 to rezone the property from its R-5 status which allows for single family or manufactured homes to R-3 for multi-family residential.
“The planning commission said our plan to build one building with 11 units was not consistent with the neighborhood,” Mooney said. “We are hoping for another chance to be a good neighbor.”
He said M&G would like rezone the property to R-3 to construct four duplexes in the mostly single-family neighborhood.
In a letter to council members, Gann said M&G was told the planned construction was incompatible with adjacent land and neighbors expressed opposition.
Gann said the property to the west and across the street to the east is zoned R-3 and is not seeking spot zoning.
“From what we understand there was only one neighbor that expressed concern,” Gann said. “We were asked at the meeting if we would be willing to fence the development and we replied we would fence it. We were also asked about lowering property value of the neighborhood. We think it’s clear that any new construction and development will only help this area.”
Gann said M&G felt like it was not given time at the meeting to negotiate options with the commission.
“We were never given the opportunity to talk about what they deemed compatible,” he said. “Nor did they seem willing to give any ideas as to how this development might be altered to suit them.”
Gann said M&G is willing to change to the duplex development in the “best interest of all parties and to contribute to the growth of the city.”
He said M&G has already built 15 of the duplexes in the city. He said the two-bedroom, one-bath units rent for under $600 a month.
The council also voted 5-0 to purchase four solar school zone beacons for Butterfield Trail Middle School and three for Parkview Elementary School.
The purchase from K&K Systems of Tupelo, Miss., will cost $22,290.11.
At the December council meeting, seventh grade student council representatives from BTMS appeared before the council to ask the mayor and members to consider the lights because of the heavy traffic on Poplar Street and multiple accidents over the past two years.
Mayor Bob Freeman surprised the students when he told them he would prepare the recommendation for four solar-powered lights comparable to those at other schools to be considered at the January council meeting.
Freeman said Monday night he decided to add the Parvkview beacons so that all Van Buren School District schools in the city will have the lights.
“We will get them ordered and installed as soon as possible,” he said.
The council also:
• Adopted standard technical specifications for construction. City Planner Joe Hurst said the new ordinance will include standards similar to other cities in the area and will provide the city controls they did not have in the past. Freeman said the ordinance is something the city has been working on for three years and will be good for the community.
• Purchased $30,621.87 in equipment for the four Chevrolet Tahoes recently bought for the Van Buren Police Department. The equipment from Cap Fleet Upfitters will include camera systems, computers, lights, gun racks and storage units.
• Appointed Mason Shirey, a commercial Realtor for Jimmy Bell Real Estate, to the planning commission, Shirey will replace Sam McCain.