VILONIA — A proposed ordinance that would regulate open burning within the Vilonia city limits is apparently a heated issue with the residents and has resulted in the city council dropping the matter like a hot potato.
Such an ordinance was presented at the January city council meeting mandating new regulations such as required burning permits, phone calls to the fire department prior to a burn and the inspection of potential burn sites prior to a burn.
Tabled at the January meeting, council members asked for additional information and clarifications. Mayor James Firestone recommended a workshop to be held with council members and Fire Chief Keith Hillman in attendance prior to the February council. Held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, prior to the regular council meeting, aldermen and Hillman discussed the potential pros and cons associated with the passing of such an ordinance as well as enforcement issues. Hillman said his intent in requesting the ordinance was to make it easier to deal with a few people illegally burning as well as to resolve an issue with firefighters and equipment being dispatched to controlled burns.
Members of the council spoke out against the proposed ordinance during the workshop, saying they had been contacted by their constituents asking them to not support it. Alderman Jim King said "because a couple of people are breaking the law, should we put everyone through this? I don’t think so. We need to follow through on the guys that are doing wrong."
After about 30 minutes of discussion, the aldermen appeared to be united on their decision. Alderman Skip Cash called for the discussion to end.
"We’ve kicked this around enough, let’s put it to bed," Cash said. On that note, the subject was dropped and it was not on the council agenda to follow.
At the 7 p.m. regular meeting, the council approved the annexation of about 292 acres into the city including about 17 acres where the new ball park is being constructed on N. Mt. Olive; 80 acres on Stanley Rd. allowing the sewer plant as well as the new Police and Fire Training Facilities to be in the city limits. Also, the acreage included about 195 acres of undeveloped land between the bypass and Stanley Road.
Another matter, the council accepted the resignation of Stanley Gordon Jr. from his position on the planning commission. Firestone read his resignation letter where Gordon referred to "new blood" being needed on the commission. Firestone praised Gordon for his service to the city and said "he will be missed."
• Fire Dept. Hillman said the department has made 65 runs since the beginning of 2013. Also, he said, a couple of firefighters have completed Haz-Mat and incident management training.
• Planning commission. Fred Fowlkes, city engineer/code enforcement, said the January planning commission meeting was cancelled due to no issues. However, he said, he has been in contact with the developer of "the first new subdivision in quite a while" and a new subdivision is set for the city. He did not provide specifics.
• Police Dept. Chief Brad McNew said the work on the Police Training Center should be wrapped up by the second or third week in March. He also said the department is operating with a full-force.
• Vilonia Sport Association. Trey White, vice-president of the VSA, said more than 500 kids are signed up for the spring softball and baseball programs. He talked about 48 teams vying for practice at the park resulting in a Sunday afternoon practice being added to this year’s program. The practices he said will begin the first week in March and games the first week in April. New batting cages, he said, are to be installed utilizing volunteers from Little Rock Air Force Base. "It’s going to be a busy spring out there," he added, referring to the city park.
• Code enforcement. There’s lots of construction going on in the city, Fowlkes said, adding that since the first of the year, building permits have been issued for five new single family houses and one storage building.
— The Vilonia Area Chamber of Commerce banquet is set for 6 p.m., Saturday in the high school cafeteria.
Prior to adjourning, the council convened into executive session to address personnel. Afterwards, it was announced no action would be taken.