ALMA — The Alma City Council passed two rezoning ordinances that are geared to complement the ongoing Streetscape Project.

The ordinances were passed by unanimous votes during the council’s meeting Thursday night.

In both instances property previously zoned I-1 (industrial) was changed to C-1 (commercial). The first property, located at 404 Fayetteville Avenue, is currently home to what’s generally known as the “canner” or “cannery” and owned by Alma Warehouse, LLC. The second, located at 505 Fayetteville Avenue, is home to the old Meadors Lumberyard and owned by Stacie Dyer.

Alma Mayor Jerry Martin said rezoning the two properties goes hand in hand with what the city is trying to accomplish in the downtown area.

“(Being zoned I-1) means if somebody wanted to open a chicken plant, or a junkyard over in that area there’s nothing we could do to stop them,” he told the council. “With the idea of what we’re trying to do with the downtown area, the revitalization and redevelopment of the downtown area, the feeling is that we would like to be able to be proactive. Changing this zoning should help with redevelopment and would protect us against certain development. I think the last thing any of us want is a junkyard down at the end of that area when we’re trying to revitalize the downtown area.”

Martin added that rezoning to C-1 would not affect any of the current use of either of these properties.

“So we’re not restricting anything that either of those properties are being used for or what the property owners intend to use the properties for,” he said.
Normally a rezoning issue would require approval from the planning commission and public hearings. But according to Arkansas State Statue 14-56-423 the council can amend plans through a majority vote of the city council.

“With that being said, I wanted to make sure that everybody who’s going to be affected by this was communicated with, so I spoke with the property owners of the cannery … and are all in agreement with us,” Martin said. “We went a step further. We actually communicated with people who had property that adjoined this property and everybody agreed with us.So as the cannery goes, everybody’s been contacted and everybody’s in agreement.”

And, he added, “I did go to the planning commission and told them I still wanted to have their blessing on this before I spoke to you and they gave me that.”

While all on the planning commission did give their blessing on the canner location, one member didn’t do so on the lumberyard location. Martin said it was because all letters from those surrounding the property had not yet been received by the mayor’s office.

Martin said he hopes the new ordinances will help the city’s Kickstart Alma Project as it begins to get back on track and regain some valuable momentum that was lost over the past several months.

“This is what everybody wants to see,” he said. “They want to see us doing things that add to the redevelopment of the downtown area and this is intended to do that.”