Future home of the VA clinic, if Beebe had his way.

  • Future home of the VA, if Beebe had his way.

On last night’s “Ask the Governor” program on AETN, moderator Steve Barnes asked Gov. Mike Beebe how he stood on the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affair’s attempts to move their Little Rock day clinic to bigger space at 10th and Main streets, an idea unpopular with some downtown business owners and Mayor Mark Stodola.

I couldn’t get a transcript and the show isn’t online, but Matt DeCample, the governor’s communications chief, paraphrased the exchange for me. (You may now see the show online here.)

The governor answered Barnes’ question by saying that no one had yet asked him about what he thought about the day clinic’s location — it’s not an issue the governor’s office is involved in — and that his answer would be that it should be on Main Street. He said he thinks it’s a good place for the services, and that veterans deserve that.

Max, who is on vacation only theoretically, has sent an e-mail to Stodola asking him if he was prepared to require the private developer to sue to get a building permit from the city to refurbish the Main Street building. If an answer comes in, I’ll post it here.

UPDATE: City Attorney Tom Carpenter issued an opinion today on the proposed conditional use permit ordinance that will come before the city board Tuesday, a proposal that popped up after the VA bought the building at 10th and Main and which could possibly require the VA to jump through more hoops to open the clinic.

Carpenter says in the opinion that the city’s practice has been not to apply a new ordinance to a project that has received a building permit. However, the VA has not yet received the building permit it needs to remodel the building, though it applied for one six weeks ago.

The mayor’s (indirect) response to Max’s question on whether he’d require the company that is redeveloping the property to sue to get the permit:

As I have always suspected, but you never asked, the passage of an ordinance requiring a conditional use will not apply to the VA for 2 reasons. (I wouldn’t have asked for the opinion otherwise.) That has been the general practice on applications already submitted and further, the BIA would grandfather in community welfare agencies already in the specific location. The city is awaiting the remainder of Tom’s opinion on the existing requirements under UU zoning.