Saturday, August 27, 2016

City residency for employees back before Little Rock City Board

Posted By on Sat, Aug 27, 2016 at 8:06 AM

ON THE AGENDA: City Board to hear about some tweaks in redevelopment plan for former department store building.
  • ON THE AGENDA: City Board to hear about some tweaks in redevelopment plan for former department store building.

The Little Rock City Board agenda session Tuesday includes two proposals related to residency of city employees.

* A resolution would  provide a cash incentive for new city employees to live in the city.

An ordinance proposed previously by City Director Erma Hendrix is also up for consideration of placement on a future meeting agenda. It would require future police officers to become city residents within 90 days of hiring. 

Under a proposal from City Manager Bruce Moore, new full-time employees could receive up to $5,000 to buy a home or $2,500 for a lease within the city. Application for the money must be made in the first year of employment. Employees must stay on the city payroll for two years or repay the taxable grant. People who are fired are not required to repay the money. The program would be retroactive to Aug. 1.

Will the incentive encourage more police officers to live in the city of Little Rock? Not as long as  Police Chief Kenton Buckner continues to reinforce the existing officers' view that the schools suck and the city is too dangerous a place to raise a family.

Past action indicates a lack of majority support for a police residency requirement. The ordinance says that residency "enhances the ability to respond more quickly to City needs, especially in times of emergency;" and would "promote greater community involvement both during the work period and afterwards."

At a minimum, it's time to stop allowing police officers who live in Lonoke County to drive police cruisers home.

Also on the agenda:

* PHILANDER SMITH HOUSING: The college proposes to place six, six-bedroom manufactured housing units  on the vacant property in the 1600 block of Chester Street once home to the Village Square apartments. The college says it needs a temporary solution to a campus housing shortage so the students don't have to live in hotels. It's envisioned as a two-year plan while permanent housing is built on campus.

* MAIN STREET: Some tweaks in previously approved zoning are recommended for three buildings at 510-524 Main, including the old M.M. Cohn Building, in a long-discussed redevelopment project. Changes include parking in the basement of the Cohn building, provisions for amenities such as a rooftop pool and party rooms if development of office and residential space justifies and the provision of potential sidewalk dining by a ground floor tenant.

* WASTEWATER: The Board also is to consider setting a hearing on an appeal of Planning Commission rejection of a wastewater treatment plant at 25616 Highway 10 to serve a planned subdivision. It's a neighborhood controversy over potential watershed pollution. The applicant wants a deferral until December. 

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