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City moving ahead with Oak Street widening

Posted: January 15, 2014 - 6:17pm

Conway will proceed with a condemnation action to take Walgreens property needed for the planned widening of Oak Street downtown.

The Conway Council voted to begin the process after being told by City Engineer Ronnie Hall that his department had presented a Walgreens corporate representative an offer in October, but “so far we haven’t reached [the point where] anyone’s making a decision about whether this is a good offer or a bad offer or whether they’re agreeable or not agreeable to it.”

The project is scheduled to be completed this Spring.

Hall and City Attorney Mike Murphy advised the council that the condemnation process could be halted if the city strikes a deal with Walgreens. If not, the property has been independently appraised as being worth about $77,000 less if the city takes the strip of parking lot needed to widen Oak Street, and this is what the city will offer to pay as fair compensation. Walgreens has the right to come up with its own appraisal, at which point a court would decide how much the city should pay.

Also, a conditional use permit to allow gas pumps needed for a prospective Kum-and-Go gas station at the corner of Prince Street and Farris Road will go back before the Conway Planning Commission one more time. The request was denied by the planning commission and council partly because the site plan for the gas station showed a vehicle entry point next to the roundabout exit. A revised site plan presented on Tuesday has this curb cut moved, but other concerns remain.

Several residents of the area had the usual concerns about noise, traffic, light and property values. Also, the council denied a similar request in the area that would have allowed the Walmart Neighborhood Market to build gas pumps. Council members Shelia Whitmore and David Grimes said before voting that they wanted the request to go back to the planning commission, but wouldn’t be voting for any rezoning that puts a gas station on that corner.

“We didn’t let Walmart, so I don’t think we should let anybody else,” Grimes said. “To me personally that’s getting the heart of commercial creep too close to what’s still mostly residential.”

Grimes and Whitmore made it clear to several people in opposition to the rezoning that they were voting to allow the request to go back before the planning commission hoping to put an end to the gas station plans.

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