Council clears the way for Harps expansion
The Bella Vista City Council voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance vacating a portion of Memorial Drive for an expansion and renovation of the Harps grocery store.
The ordinance, which required a public hearing, did not receive any input from the general public. The council voted unanimously in favor of moving the ordinance to a third and final reading before voting to approve it.
The ordinance was required by the planning commission, which approved the development — which includes changes to the parking area, a 9,606-square-foot addition to and remodel of the grocery store and updates to the shopping area on the property, which is owned by Cooper Realty Investments Inc.
Council member Doug Fowler said this development is a
complex issue and it’s important for an elected representative to consider what it means for Bella Vistans.
Fowler said he doubts that it will make a substantial difference in terms of city sales tax revenue. While the Harps will likely do more business after this project is complete, he said, he expects most of that business will be migrating from Allen’s — though some may be drawn to shop in town rather than across the state line.
Looking at other cities of similar size, Fowler said, Bella Vista lags far behind in terms of tax revenue.
He also noted the city has fewer services available than neighboring cities, meaning residents need to leave Bella Vista for many of their needs.
If Cooper is willing to further develop its properties in the city, he said, a wider variety of services can be made available to Bella Vistans and more revenue can go into supporting the city’s services.
“We need a lot of things out here, we have 30,000 people,” he said.
The council also set rates for trash pickup, which mayor Peter Christie said stayed below the 3.6 percent consumer price index and increased 3 percent, to a total of $14.01 per month for residential customers.
The council voted unanimously in favor of tabling a resolution to amend the city’s agreement with the Bella Vista Animal Shelter.
“I met today with two representatives of the shelter and we discussed their annual contract … they have asked for a little bit more money, which I think is reasonable,” Christie said.
The requested increase would see the city paying the shelter an additional $10 per dog and $10 per cat over what it pays now, on top of a total of $500 per month.
As of the end of last month, Christie said, the city has paid the shelter $45,000 and the shelter is coming in under projections for the year.
“The animal shelter has been very aggressive in their fundraising this year,” he said.
Council member Linda Lloyd said the city would suffer without the shelter.
“The animal shelter does an amazing job,” she said.
The council also approved amounts of liens to be certified against properties for grass cutting expenses, reappointing two people to the board of zoning adjustments and an amendment to the city budget to recognize $29,400 in Selective Traffic Enforcement Project grant revenue.