Tuesday, March 01, 2011

TOP STORY >> PETA says fireworks killed birds

Leader staff writer

The Beebe City Council took no action Monday on a request from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to ban fireworks in the city. PETA believes fireworks were the cause of about 5,000 blackbirds being killed on New Year’s Eve.

Mayor Mike Robertson told the council that he disregarded the letter, but that the roost area is expanding and if the ordinance isn’t changed, what happened on New Year’s Eve is certain to happen again.

“If we have those million and a half birds and you shoot off bombs, it’s going to reoccur,” Robertson told the council.

“I think it’s fine the way it is,” Alderman Les Cossey said about possibly changing the ordinance that allows residents to shoot fireworks during some holidays.

A well-known Cabot developer who intends to turn a farm on Hwy. 64 near the edge of Beebe into a subdivision of houses, businesses and apartments has been turned down a third time on the apartments.

The council let the planning-commission approval of the project die for lack of a motion to approve or disapprove the rezoning from R-1 to R-3 that would have been needed before developer Bob Tasler could move ahead with his plans.

Bob Morrison from the planning commission told the council that they approved the project for a number of reasons: Hwy. 64 is the only big growth area available in the city.

The apartments will not be visible from the highway or other subdivisions. In these economic times apartments will house people who are afraid to buy homes and the council owes it to the future of the city to approve the apartments.

Lisa Tozer, who owns apartments in the area and has opposed Tasler from the beginning, told him when comments from the public were allowed to not send her anymore letters about his development because she wouldn’t open them.

Nicholas Warden, Tozer’s son, who owns a flower shop in Beebe, said he wanted to keep a small town atmosphere and that the city “needs to grow with the right kind of population.”

Tasler, one of the original developers of Greystone in Cabot, said he intended to build upscale apartments that would definitely not be public housing, not that there’s anything wrong with public housing.

Tasler also addressed the council at the end of the meeting and pointed out that Tozer’s comments were to him and that Warden doesn’t live in Beebe, so the council turned down his rezoning request again without any objections from Beebe residents, he said.

In other business, the council voted to declare four abandoned houses a public nuisance so they may be torn down and liens filed to collect the cost of demolition and cleanup from the owners. Discussion revealed that there are as many as 20 abandoned houses that need to be razed.

The four that will go first are located at 201 N. Elm, 117 S. Apple, 401 E. Center and 403 E. Center.

“It’s time to clean some of these up that’s been here for years and years and years,” Robertson said.

Aldermen Tracy Lightfoot and Becky Short agreed. But Alderman Linda Anthony said she was concerned about the $11,000 cost of cleaning up the dead birds.

The council took no action on a request from Ron Lewis, assistant police chief, to raise the salary of Capt. Eddie Cullum, the department’s head investigator, by about $5,000 and the salary of an investigator to work with him by $1 an hour.

Lewis said Cullum has solved two murders and one kidnapping since he took over investigations and his salary is about the same as a White County Rd. deputy with two years of experience.

And keeping help for Cullum has been impossible because the position pays no more than patrolling and the stress is much higher. Officers move into investigation, stay one to three months and transfer back to patrol, Lewis said.