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Ward Council discusses franchise

Renewal of the cable television franchise, planning commission matters and parks and recreation programs were on the agenda of the Ward City Council meeting held Monday, Sept. 9.

Mayor Art Brooke and aldermen Bill Moon, Lee Schoonover, Gary Matheny, Charles Gastineau and Don Howard attended the meeting; Jeff Shaver was absent.

Council member approved a new 10-year franchise with Friendship Cable/SuddenLink Communication for cable television service in the city.

The new agreement increases the city’s franchise fee from three percent to five percent of the gross revenue from cable charges.

Planning Commission chairman Gary Meadows reported that a public hearing has been set for 7 p.m., Sept. 19, to discuss the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Form Based Overlay District. The meeting would be in the Municipal Complex cafeteria, he said.

The draft of the ordinance establishing the Ward Form Based Zoning Overlay District ordinance explains the purpose as promoting “compact, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development at appropriate locations in the City of Ward.”

The intent stated in the draft is to allow for the development of neighborhoods in which a variety of uses are permitted within a convenient, walking distance of residents.

A form-based overlay district would encourage mixed-use development; ensure that building forms and sites blend with a walkable environment; decrease dependence on vehicles and reduce traffic congestion and emissions; decrease infrastructure costs; encourage sustainable development patterns; and preserve open space.

Also to be discussed is the city’s comprehensive plan, WARD2035, which sets a long-range plan for the development of the city’s area.

Meadows said the commission is considering revamping the zones in three areas of the city. Those are the city hall area, the Peyton Road/Wilson Loop area; and the other the Highway 319/38 area.

“It would be doing mixed-use occupancies similar to what they are doing in other cities,” Meadows said. “It is nothing earth-shattering. Just new to us,” he said.

Richard Magee, a planner from Metroplan, would also be at the meeting, Meadows said.

Parks and recreation director Cortney Dorman reported that a community-wide workout program is set to begin during the first week in October. It would begin with one evening each week, on Monday, but could be expanded if response is strong, she said.

“We can expand it to as many days a week as we need,” and it could be held either morning or evening, Dorman said.

In other parks and recreation matters, response has been good for the peewee football, cheerleaders and soccer programs, Dorman said. There are two soccer teams, one football team for each age group, and a full cheerleading squad for each football team, she said.

Games will be between teams from Cabot, Lonoke, Des Arc, Beebe and Carlisle, Dorman said.

The next meeting of the Ward City Council will be held Oct. 14.

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