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Council OKs interchange project funds

In a 40-minute city council meeting, Cabot aldermen gave the nod to obligating the funds for the U.S Highway 67/167 north terminal interchange; approved construction of a community safe room; and, which drew the most public comment, re-zoning of land for a new car dealership.

“This is a historic day for the city,” Mayor Bill Cypert remarked on the approval of the funds for the construction of the interchange.

Aldermen Ed Long, Ann Gilliam, Rick Prentice, Ryan Flynn, Jon Moore, Angie Jones and Dallan Buchanan attended the meeting.

When the interchange is completed, it will connect with Arkansas Highways 38 and 367 to the east, and Ed Haymes Road to the west, opening a way to the Greystone and Magness Creek areas.

However, the most discussion came with consideration of re-zoning of tracts of land at the intersection of Rockwood Drive and West Main Street from C-2 to C-3.

Tom Harness, manager of Excel Ford, requested the re-zoning to build a new dealership on the land.

Residents of Pacton Lakes, which borders the north side of the area, were concerned about maintaining a buffer zone between their subdivision and the business.

Planning commission chairman Ron Craig assured the residents that not only would there be a 50-foot buffer, but also an area zoned for light offices.

The residents voiced no other concern about the commercial area itself, except that it makes traffic control and management for the section a priority for planners.

Of keen interest for aldermen are the three houses on the land, which the city has condemned. The houses have fallen into neglect and disrepair.

Harness assured the council that he was anxious to begin construction of the dealership, that he had been delayed “in this process” far too long, and as soon as he was able to begin, the houses would be demolished to get them out of the way.

The council accepted his request for the re-zoning to be accelerated by adopting an emergency clause, allowing the approval to be made in one meeting rather than the routine 90 days.

Aldermen approved with no comment, obligation of up to $9.5 million for the city’s share of the construction of the North Terminal Interchange, between Austin and Cabot.

The funds are the city’s share of construction costs in an agreement with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD). In the agreement, AHTD will contribute up to $11.5 million.

Cypert pointed out that provision in the agreement is for AHTD to refund the city’s funds if the state funds are not made available within five years of Oct. 1.

The city’s funds will be made available to AHTD over 36 months, and may be used “to expedite the project.”

No date has been set for the start of construction.

In other matters, the council approved annexing two areas, one at the intersection of Rockwood Drive and Arkansas Highway 5; and the other along Arkansas Highway 89 (West Main Street), near Fire Station No. 2.

Approve the purchase of a Bobcat E50 mini-excavator from Hug & Hall Equipment $51,698.24;

Council members also approved the re-appointments of Brian Knowles to the Cabot Advertising and Promotion Commission; and Ron Craig to the Cabot Planning Commission.

The council also set a special meeting for 7 p.m July 29 to act on land transactions for the Parks and Recreation Commission.

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