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By Sue Curry Jones
Mayor Eddie Maggard convened the September session of city council Tuesday evening with approximately 20 residents and business owners present for the meeting. The issue under scrutiny was the decision of the planning and zoning commission to approve a conditional use allowance for the Century 21 building located on the southeast side of the Cooper Lumber parking lot.
Dr. Michael Peters, owner of the Animal Clinic of Ava, had tendered the request for the zoning allowance several months ago, and the final decision was before council Tuesday evening.
However, prior to the meeting on Tuesday, two letters had been submitted to the City of Ava asking council members to reassess the commission’s recommendation to sanction the conditional use permit for Dr. Peters and the relocation of veterinarian services to the site.
Addressing the mayor and city council, Larry Morrison voiced his opposition to the zoning allowance citing several reasons of concern. Issues noted by Morrison included: animal manure infiltrating ditches, runoff areas and Prairie Creek; the buildings proximity to a residential area; spread of animal diseases; flies and insects; and constructing a large animal barn building at the gateway into town.
Morrison also noted his feelings about the conditional use allowance were contradictory to his community friendships, and his opinion was not personal, but arose from uneasiness about the decision. In asking council to reconsider the decision, Morrison said, “Ava needs to grow, and Ava needs the business; but not this business right here.”
John Weisbrod, president of the Ava Lions Club, also addressed council in support of Morrison’s comments by expressing an opinion that the conditional use allowance was a bad decision. Weisbrod said, “it’s two steps forward and now two steps backward”. He said he had discussed the situation with 30-40 people, and they all felt the same.
Lane Lakey, who serves as an officer of the zoning commission, had also submitted a letter to the mayor expressing concerns. In the letter, Lakey noted four issues – allowing “spot” zoning which is contrary to the city plan; residential homes are narrowly protected from the vet facility by a narrow strip of land without any barriers to curtail noise or visual pollution; the use of the property for this purpose has not been evaluated as to environmental impact; and for Dr. Peters to invest in property under a conditional use format could pose liability issues for the city.
Lakey expressed his support of the business, and the efforts of the business owner to expand in Ava, however, Lakey did not support this location as the proper site.
Councilman Bill Long said he had visited five of Ava’s restaurants and found none of them to have concerns with the vet facility. Long said the eateries were fine with the office location and did not have any issues or complaints about flies, run-off, or concerns about manure.
Councilman Burrely Loftin said he had paid an impromptu visit to Peters’ present location and found it to be clean – inside and outside. Flies were not a problem. He also had visited nearby cafes, and found no issues or complaints.
Responding to issues, Dr. Peters assured council, Larry Morrison and other complainants that the facility would comply with sound practices and run-off would not be an issue.
Peters said drains to the sanitary sewer would be installed at the new facility and dog and cattle feces will go down the drain. In fact, his plan for all animal waste is to wash the residue down the drains.
Peters said his facility is cleaned every day, and problems with runoff really don’t apply. Potential problems with animal diseases are negligible because he and his staff are conscientious about washing and sterilizing. Animal parts from de-horning or castrations will go into the trash, and Peters said that this action from his facility is no different than restaurants that dispose of chicken and meat parts in trash dumpsters.
Peters readily acknowledged the importance of aesthetics and visual appeal at the new site. He said plans for the proposed barn are smaller, and the new facility will definitely possess curb appeal. Concluding, Peters asked the group to have some faith that he will do his best. “I don’t want to come into this town and make everyone mad,” he said.
Council members upheld the findings of planning and zoning, and voted 4-0 in favor of the conditional use permit. Motions to adopt were offered by Burrely Loftin and Bill Long.
During executive session, Police Chief Reggie Johnson requested and received approval to promote Police Officer Tim Stewart to corporal. The aldermen also consented to commission Gary Koop as a reserve officer with the police department. Koop will work as an investigator on an as-needed basis, as well as serve as a certified administrator of Computerized Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) tests for the department.
Johnson reported the city police department had recently completed the Uniform Crime Report (UCR), and received 97% (out of 100) on the audit. The audit, administered every three years, was conducted by Scott Cline with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Johnson said the information is important because it provides statistics about the level of crime in our area. The numbers are reported to the state and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
UCR statistics are gathered from law enforcement agencies across the nation who voluntarily participate in the program.
To-date, Johnson noted Ava PD has logged 2,100 calls for service so far this year, a time frame of Jan. – Sept. 11, 2012. He noted the number of calls has increased.
The city police department has seven full-time officers on staff, a number that includes Johnson.
In other city business, council approved the purchase of a 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT 4×4 pick-up truck from Davis Auto Sales of Ava. Jimmy Johnson, superintendent of the electric department, said the truck is being purchased to replace their department vehicle, which was given to another division in the city.
Overall bids were received from Marshfield, Houston and Mtn. Home, Ark., however, the bid submitted by Davis Auto offered the best price. Accepted in a 4-0 vote, Burrely Loftin and David Norman tendered the motions.
Johnson said the 2004 Dodge truck is white with 102,000 miles, and had a purchase price of $9,500.
In a unanimous vote, council also approved moving forward with the final phase of improvements to the electric distribution system.
Requests for proposals and bid specifications were solicited from six different firms, however, only two companies responded to the city’s request for bids –– a low bid of $471,042 was received from KIOWA Line Builders of Tipton, Mo., and a bid of $656,984 from J.F. Electric, Edwardsville, Illinois.
Motions to accept the low bidder were given by Burrely Loftin and Ric Engelhardt, and council voted 4-0 to accept KIOWA Line Builders as the firm for the project.
KIOWA was recommended by the consulting/engineering firm of Barnes, Henry, Meisenheimer & Gende, Inc., of Arnold, Mo., and according to Janice Lorrain, the engineering firm also verified the company’s references.
Street Superintendent Randy Hawkins provided council with a summary of street locations chosen for paving improvements this year. Hawkins noted these locations were selected as sites where underground work had been completed, and were less likely to be torn up. The streets were also free of obstacles, such as curbing and guttering.
With only $115,000 in the budget for paving, Hawkins recommended Journagan Construction, as their bid was cheaper per ton.
Council approved in a 4-0 vote, with motions from Ric Engelhardt and Burrely Loftin.
Aldermen present were Burrely Loftin, Ric Engelhardt, Bill Long and David Norman.
The next council meeting will convene Tuesday, Sept. 25, 5 p.m., in council chambers at Ava City Hall.