Coun­cil clears the way for Harps ex­pan­sion

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - KEITH BRYANT [email protected]

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.

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