Council approves rezoning to accommodate debris chipping

A temporary rezoning in south Fayetteville was approved at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, so International Equipment Distributors, Inc. (IED) can chip ice-storm debris at a site near Drake Field.

IED was awarded the $439,500 contract at last Thursday’s special City Council session, but the deal was contingent on the rezoning of this area.

The resolution passed 5-1. Alderman Brenda Thiel of Ward 1 was the only “no” vote.

Thiel said she opposed the measure because of the noise that would be generated at the site and the possibility of environmental damage, because contaminants could run into the nearby waterway.

The 15.2-acre property is currently zoned as RA (residential agriculture) but for the three-months that IED will be chipping the debris, the land will be I-2 (general industrial).

“This is in a valley and, as we know, the noise reverberates. This is surrounded by a residential neighborhood and will disrupt the area,” Thiel said.

Gary Easterling of IED said he looked at about 10 other sites, but the other locations did not meet the required specifications, such as easy access for large trucks to haul the loads and an area large enough for 150,000 cubic yards of debris.

IED’s contract with the city allows for grinding on the site seven days a week and up to 10 hours a day for three months.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he recognized the concerns for chipping the debris at the location, but also reminded the council that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality requires the city to remove debris from the three collection sites by May 27 because of concerns of leaching and spontaneous combustion.

Unlike other cities, Fayetteville did not want to burn the debris, Jordan said. “I thought we were a more environmentally friendly city than that, so I offered to chip it.”

After chipping the wood, IED plans to sell the material to Tyson Foods, Inc. Tyson plans to use the wood chips for bedding in their chicken houses.

IED will still have to adhere to noise, dust and erosion regulations at the site, said Jeremy Pate, director of current planning.

In other news, the council unanimously adopted the Fayette Junction Master Plan.

The plan outlines “guiding principles” for the form of new development, said Karen Minkel, the city’s strategic planning and internal consulting director. The master plan does not dictate what kind of businesses can develop in the area, “it’s a matter of form,” Minkel told the council.

For anyone following Matthew Petty’s Social Media Communication resolution, the item was tabled until the May 19th council meeting.