(West Plains) – The West Plains City Council met on Monday evening for their regularly scheduled meeting for the month of August, and the first one since the death of West Plains Mayor Joe Paul Evans on Saturday. Mayor Pro Tem Jack Pahlmann told attendees at the meeting that some of the items on the agenda were time-sensitive and needed to be dealt with, and that he believed that Joe Paul Evans would have “wanted business to go on as usual”.
PASTOR COMMENTS ON THE LOSS OF MAYOR EVANS
Before the meeting, Mark Mildren, Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church of West Plains, where Mayor Evans attended services, spoke to the council and those in attendance about Evans and his impact on the city.
“He loved this job and he loved this city…I’ve known Joe Paul for many years and I’ve always known he’s had my back. He was a West Plains citizen all the way. When (his wife) Helen died a few years ago, I think being mayor is what kept him going.”
He continued, saying that many people lost many different things when Evans passed away:
RESIDENTS VOICE CONCERNS ABOUT PROPOSED ZONING BILLS, CHANGES
In the public hearing that followed, the council heard from Willard Schnurbusch, a property owner in the city, concerning the proposed changes to city zoning density regulations for commercial C-1 and C-2 zones. The coding change would increase the amount of multi-family housing units within an acre of C-1 and C-2 zones from 16 to 25. Schnurbusch spoke with Ozark Radio News after the meeting and said that he was concerned by the possible increase in foot traffic with the proposed change. He was also concerned with the way he felt he was disrespected by Pahlmann:
Pahlmann later told Schnurbusch that he was being short with him because both he and the council was having “a rough day”. City Building Official Dustin Harrison mentioned in the meeting that the change was to help bring the city regulations up to par with other cities in the region, which have anywhere from 25 to 40 units in that same zoning designation.
The council also heard from Michael Evans, a property owner whose request to rezone a parcel of land was denied by the Planning and Zoning Commission at their July 21meeting. The property, at 846 Monks Street, was denied by the commission, who said that there was concern with the property being north of Farrell Street and being rezoned, where a barricade may be placed, with no access to the new proposed street from Monks to Bear Valler Road. The Planning and Zoning Commission said that the barricade could be compromised if the property were to become commercial. Evans came to request the council either overturn the decision and make his property C-2, or to send all of the requests back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for reconsideration. The council told Evans that they did not have the power to redesignate the zone, and that if Evans wanted to repeal the decision, he would have to reapply for the designation through the Planning and Zoning Commission. Evans said that if his was not accepted, none of the requested rezoning that if he were forced to reapply, the “damage would already be done”, dropping the price of his residential property due to the nearby zone changes. Evans told Ozark Radio News that he felt that the council didn’t act in the best interest of him or the city:
The council approved the other five rezoning requests brought before them. Evans says that he has not decided whether he will reapply for a zoning change or if he will take the issue to court.
Other bills approved by the council included a bill allowing the city to get their CIP tax funding immediately to start projects. To get the funding, the city will be refinancing bonds through their current investment group. The renewing of the bonds will bring the city $2.3 million to work on projects, while the city will make $4,955,000 from the tax during the current taxation period. City Finance Director Dixie Williams says that the city will also save $140,000 with a new refinancing rate of 2.34%. The investor group will hold the lease of the city hall complex and fire station #2 on an annual basis until repayment is complete.
City Administrator Tom Stehn is also allowed to enter into an agreement with HMG Engineers to relocate a meter in the water treatment plant and add a number of meters to get better readings. The contract has been stipulated to not exceed $8340.
Stehn was also allowed to enter into an agreement with Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc. For a proposal on the Preacher Roe Boulevard sidewalk designs. Stehn said at the meeting that the #1 demand from residents during the CIP survey that was conducted earlier this year was sidewalks, followed by city playgrounds. The project is stipulated to not cost more than $59,000.
Both tax levies, for property taxes and the library tax, were approved by the council. Neither rate is changing from the 2011 rate.
The city also backed a 30 unit single-family affordable housing development, known as the Webster Groves Subdivision, on North Howell Avenue, just south of Joe Jones Boulevard. The lot will hold up to 50, but 30 “green bronze” certified homes will be built. A majority of the homes (24) will be leased to families at or below 60% of the area median income and the balance of the homes (6) will be leased as workforce housing to families in the 60-80% area median income bracket.
The council also approved all bids brought before them and appointment recommendations. They also heard a city project update from City Administrator Tom Stehn including the new airport terminal building project, a new transit bus received August 1, footing for two bridges at Don Warden Park, Galloway Park and other items.
All appointments were approved at the meeting as well:
- Appointed Diane Smithey and Kathleen Aid to the Board of City Pride for five year terms. Terms to expire May 2017.
- Reappointed Graham O’Neal, Newt Brill, Phil Bagby, Barry Slayton, Gene Poppe, and Mike Mickey to the West Plains Improvement/Utility Finance Board for two year terms. Terms to expire September 2014.
- Reappointed Herb Lunday to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a four year term. Term to expire September 2016.
- Appointed Jennifer Atkinson to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a four year term. Term to expire September 2016.
- Reappointed Paul Childers and Thom Sheridan to the Tax Increment Financing #3 Board (TIF #3) for three year terms. Terms to expire August 2015.
- Reappointed Bill Hutchings and Mark Basom to the Tax Increment Financing #3 Board (TIF #3) for four year terms. Terms to expire August 2016.
- Reappointed Mary Jo McManus to the Housing Authority Board for a four year term. Term to expire September 2016.