"I am all for backing up our codes," Ash Flat Planning and Zoning Commissioner Fred Goodwin told the Ash Flat City Council during their meeting March 16. "But I don't want it to turn into the surrounding communities."
Goodwin told the council that the Planning and Zoning commission asked him to address the council requesting a building inspector for the city.
"With the new ordinances that were passed (regulating building codes), we (the commission) thought there needs to be someone to enforce these things," Goodwin said. "This person would check set backs and things like that."
Goodwin introduced Ken Anderson, a building inspector who works for Horseshoe Bend and Cherokee Village, to answer questions the council might have. Goodwin told the council that Anderson is well qualified and has experience in local towns.
The council discussed the issue, questioning where the money would come from to pay an inspector. Ash Flat does not charge for building permits as of now.
The council said they could charge for building permits and fund a building inspector position that way. It was mentioned that both Horseshoe Bend and Cherokee Village charge for permits.
But, the council, as a whole, agreed that they do not want to charge such expensive fees that people could not afford to obtain a permit. "Instead of a building permit fee, why not charge an inspection fee," Alderman Jerrell Lesley suggested.
The council asked Anderson how he is paid by the other two cities. He told them that Horseshoe Bend pays him hourly plus a mileage allowance.
Anderson told the council, on average, a new home requires him to visit for inspections around eight times, each time for about an hour. He said he is paid $9 per hour plus his mileage. "Seven to eight hours is just a round number," Anderson told the council. "It always depends on the situation, each one is different."
The council decided to table the discussion until the next meeting. "Let's get out in the community and see what the people think about this," Mayor Danny Traw said.
Ash Flat City Attorney Larry Kissee reported that the annexation the council requested is in the works.
The council voted to annex the property on Nix Ridge Road, which includes the ball park, some property that is owned by the city, From the Beginning Day Care and the Veterans Memorial.
Legally, these parcels of land are not within Ash Flat city limits. The annexation, if approved, would make them part of the city.
Also included in the annexation is the property across from Walmart that Fred Goodwin and Anthony "Tony" Stewart are developing. The development is going to be called Secluded Estates, and while most of it is already in city limits some of it falls short.
Kissee said he did not foresee any problems with the process, but he would keep the council informed.
Ruth Reynolds, president of Save Energy Reap Taxes (SERT), spoke to the council about renewable energy.
Reynolds is an active environmentalist, who regularly addresses the Sharp County area municipalities trying to stimulate some renewable energy activity in the area.
She has researched what other states have done to cut carbon emissions and presented these same ideas to area officials.
After her presentation to the council, she answered questions regarding her findings. "Do you have any idea what we can do?" Lesley asked. "Which direction in renewable energy can we take to move forward?"
Reynolds responded by saying that she thinks, in this case, the federal government. "We need to tell our representatives that we want to take part in this," she said. "And, lobby the subject hard."
While there are several options for renewable energy, some are very costly. Traw said just by doing a few things within the city last year, like extra insulation and a new furnace in the fire house, the city has cut their energy cost by 40 percent.
The council agreed with Reynolds that renewable energy is a great thing, but because Sharp County is such a small area some of the options larger areas might have are not available.