Magnolia adds 1 new food truck license, bringing total to 6; Mayor, Council discuss infrastructure projectsby J.D. Bailey on 05/24/22
The Magnolia City Council met Monday to discuss business for the month of May. The topics included the following:
MOBILE FOOD VENDOR LICENSE
The Magnolia City Council voted unanimously to add one new mobile food vendor license for the general public to pursue. The motion will now bring the total number of permits allowed within the city limits to six.
The move was made to help accommodate for potential new food businesses in Magnolia.
“We’ve got more vendors than we’ve got permits right now,” said Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann.
Currently, the licenses are all occupied. The vendors are thought to include Hachi Hachi Japanese Grill, Crayton’s BBQ Express, Lee’s Cajun Boilers, King and Queen Wingz, and Avalanche Shaved Ice, according to city officials.
The resolution passed Monday was actually a variation on the original language in the item before the Council. At first, a resolution was read that would have added three new vendor licenses (eight total), but after a lengthy discussion on the matter, the number of total permits was only increased by one -- from five to six. The move came after Magnolia Alderman Jamie Waller noted that he wished to gather information from local restaurant owners before expanding the number too high.
“I think we should have at least a period there for them to comment on this,” the city official said. “I want to keep them happy, too.”
The initial city ordinance passed in 2016 established the number of mobile food vendor licenses at five. Until Monday, no further action had been taken on the matter to address the limit on local food trucks.
The licenses are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis, and they are permitted every quarter, according to the city clerk’s office.
On Monday, it was stated that at least one new mobile food vendor was ready to buy a license, which would again cap out the total amount of occupied licenses available in the city. If the Council wishes to raise the number next month, it can still do so with a simple majority vote from the aldermen.
Discussions also took place Monday to add a punishment clause in the food truck ordinance in attempt to rid the city of unlicensed mobile food vendors, but no action on the matter was taken. The issue, however, could again be brought up at the June meeting of the Magnolia City Council, according to discussions on Monday. The fine amount for unlicensed vendors was proposed at $350 for first offenders, but that figure could be increased.
As it sits now, food trucks can be located anywhere within the city limits. But, according to the mayor, the city is looking into setting up a designated farmers market and mobile food vendor area near downtown Magnolia, but nothing is official. He stated in March that South Jackson Street could be a good area for the setup, but a better location is possibly on the horizon.
VINE STREET SIDEWALK GRANT
A federal TAPS (Transportation Alternatives Program) Grant was approved by the Council for application on Monday. The grant, which was also applied for unsuccessfully last year, would see the construction of sidewalks along South Vine Street -- from West Main on the north end to School Street on the south end of the project.
“We’re going to try (the application) another time,” said Andy Franks, civil engineer for A.L. Franks Engineering on Monday.
If approved, the grant would supply 80% of the funding, while the city would only be on the hook for 20% of the costs involved.
WATER MITIGATION POND AT FORMER PITTMAN PROPERTY
A low bid of $440,323 was accepted by the Council Monday to fund the construction of a water mitigation pond at the city’s recently-purchased 12-acre property that borders North Dudney and East Columbia Street in Magnolia. The centrally-located area, which was bought by the city via its economic development fund in March for $263,000, was the former longtime home of Pittman Garden Center.
A mitigation pond, or stormwater detention basin, is often used by municipalities to aid in storm drainage and prevent flooding in an area. The new basin will be constructed on the lower elevation, eastern side of the property, according to Franks.
The low bid was submitted by Mac’s General Contractors, Inc., of El Dorado. The other two bids, according to Franks came in at $523,000 and $549,000.
As of Monday, the city still did not own the former Pittman property. The sale was expected to be completed by the end of April, but Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann stated this week that the city has yet to take ownership of the acreage, due to the final stages of land surveying and legal closing procedures.
With ownership of the land expected soon by the city, the Council voted to accept the low bid for the mitigation pond. Construction on the basin, however, cannot begin until the municipality takes full control of the two lots in the deal.
Ideally, according to Franks, the pond should be dug out during the summer months – when rainy and wet weather will likely least affect the project.
In total, the project is contracted to take 45 days or less, weather cooperating.
“If inclement weather arises, (the contractor) will get time extensions,” said Franks.
SPLASH PAD UPDATE
Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann stated Monday that he has met with a development firm about the construction of a splash pad and dog-skate park at East Side Park, but that he has not been impressed with what was offered for the money so far.
“I was expecting more splash pad, more skate park, more dog park than we got for the money,” he said. “… It just didn’t wow us, and if they don’t want to wow us, then we’ll keep looking.”
In March, after being denied twice in three years for state parks grant fund to help make the local project a reality, the city and the Magnolia A&P Commission earlier this year combined efforts to put $600,000 toward the build.
In other City Council news:
- A resolution was passed Monday to apply for future sewage infrastructure assistance from the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.
“This is for the city to be in position for ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds when they become available,” said Andy Franks of A.L. Franks Engineering. “The resolution was part of the application packet.”
The federal infrastructure funds passed down to the state are expected to be available this summer, according to the engineer.