Friday, October 02, 2015

TOP STORY >> Despite lawsuit, Beebe borrows to extend water

Leader staff writer

The Beebe City Council on Monday approved an ordinance authorizing the Beebe Water and Sewer Commission to establish a $1 million line of credit through Centennial Bank. The loan would be for five years at 2.83 percent interest.

According to Mayor Mike Robertson, the credit will be available if Beebe Water and Sewer needs to purchase water lines for future growth. Some water lines inside city limits are owned by a rural water development group.

Southwest White County Water Association Public Water Authority filed a suit last January in U.S. District Court-Eastern District of Arkansas against the city and the Beebe Water and Sewer Commission, claiming encroachment and demanding restitution for loss of income and customers.

Southwest alleges that Beebe has installed and plans further installation of water and sewer lines within South-west’s service area.

Southwest, in its complaint, said Beebe has more than 140 water meters in areas that Southwest serves. The disputed areas include Meadows Subdivision, a portion of Duggar Road and West Mississippi Street. There are also disputed areas off Christina and Beaver roads, Jamie Lane and a section at the corner of Duggar Road and Harness Lane.

The suit alleges Beebe has caused Southwest customers to end water service with Southwest in favor of getting water service from Beebe.

Southwest is arguing that it qualifies for federal protection from Beebe’s encroachment. Southwest is seeking an injunction against Beebe from engaging in competition with Southwest and any act that would limit Southwest’s rights to sell water within its service territory.

The suit has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Brian Miller and Magistrate Judge H. David Young.

 In other business, Connie Kirby, owner of the house at 1031 Tori Lane in the Windwood Subdivision, asked the city council to consider rescinding the city’s declaration that the house was substantially damaged. She would like to sell the house or rent it.

The house was purchased in 2003 and flooded three times in October 2009, December 2009 and May 2011. It was later determined that it had been built in a floodplain. Building inspector Milton McCullar declared the house substantially damaged.

The Kirbys received $5,000 in federal funds to either tear down the house, move the house or elevate it. The Kirbys did neither of the three actions.

McCullar said the house will flood again.

The city council in 2013 condemned the house. Kirby pleaded no contest for not tearing down it down or maintaining the property.

According to Kirby, Bank of America, who mortgaged the house, would not let them tear down the house.

She used flood insurance for the house’s contents and for rent because she was paying on a mortgage. Kirby stopped payments and the bank foreclosed on the house. Bank of America then sold the mortgage to a bank in New York.

The foreclosure was dismissed this year.

City Attorney Scott Bles was concerned about the $5,000 in federal funds being misappropriated. Bles wants Kirby to refund the money back to the government. The federal money was paid based on McCullar’s finding.

Bles also wants the Kirbys to pay the city for cutting the grass at the home for a year and to sign a declaration that the city will not be held responsible for future damages due to flooding.

The council wanted to get more information from the federal government before making a decision.

• Aldermen passed an ordinance prohibiting hosting or permitting parties where minors consume alcoholic beverages. Violating the ordinance can result in a fine of up to $500 for the first offense and doubling for each subsequent offense, or up to 60 days in jail.

• The council amended an ordinance on yard sales. It now requires signs posted on Saturday to taken down by 8 a.m. Monday morning.

• Aldermen approved an ordinance amending the zoning map to change 611 W. California St. from R-1 residential to R-3 residential.