The Mountain Home City Council Thursday turned down a request from Hobby Lobby to waive a $2,467 fee to connect to the city's water system, with some members of the council saying they did not want to vote for these type waivers until a firm written policy was developed.
Councilwoman Marshella Norell said she was not sure if the waiver request came from Hobby Lobby or from Doug Cooper, owner of the old Wal-Mart building into which Hobby Lobby will move. She said the Council would be much better off with a written policy to guide its decisions.
She pointed out that the ordinance establishing the connection fees did not contain provisions for waivers. "You do this for one and more are going to come," Norell told the Council.
Norell said some residents had been critical of the Council when it was agreed in December to build 220 feet of roadway to extend West End Way into the parking lot of a proposed new Harps's grocery to be located in the West End Commercial Development. It is estimated that the roadway would cost $28,000. At the time, Mayor David Osmon said that if the new Harp's store was built, it would create about 70 jobs and generate thousands of dollars in sales tax money for the city. The mayor said he estimated that the city would recover its cost for the road work in six months with increased tax revenue.
Several members of the council questioned why the developers of the property, Gregory-Magness Properties, Inc., did not pay for, or at least participate in paying for, the road since it would enhance the value of the property immediately adjacent to the new roadway benefiting the developers.
Norell said the request for Hobby Lobby was another situation where the city was being asked to make exceptions for a single business or individual and she said she would oppose the proposal and urged that a policy be developed so all parties -- including the council -- would know what could and could not be done so all parties would be treated the same.
Only Councilman Bob Devecki voted for the waiver, with Jennifer Baker abstaining. The others present voted no. Councilman Rick Pierce was absent.
In other business, the Council approved a number of resolutions which served to touch all of the necessary bureaucratic bases related to an economic development grant to assist with the expansion of Epoxyn which will result in the creation of 60 new jobs, according to Jay Stallard of the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District.
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