REGIONAL DISTRICTS: The Board of Directors is considering an ordinance that would restructure the three current at-large positions into three "regional director" positions that would be elected by residents in each of the three regions, instead of citywide.  Brian Chilson

In a meeting Tuesday evening, the Little Rock Board of Directors approved a resolution that amends the city’s contract with Friday, Eldredge and Clark to represent the city in Civil Service appeals from $45,000 per year to $130,000. 

Friday, Eldredge and Clark originally contracted with Little Rock for an amount “not to exceed” $45,000 for the law firm’s representation of the city in Civil Service appeals. Due to an “unexpected increase” in these appeals, the law firm requested that its contract be amended to an amount “not to exceed” $130,000. 

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The board passed the resolution as part of its consent agenda, which received a unanimous vote of approval. 

Directors also approved an ordinance that will establish a Planned Commercial District at 9811 Mabelvale Main Street, allowing the current owner of a tire shop at that address to continue using the space, so long as improvements are made to the property and additional tire storage is added. 

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Jessica Pineda Callejas, the developer of the property, said the business will use a trailer to store “waste” tires, and that trailer will be stored in a garage out of sight from the street. 

Vice Mayor BJ Wyrick and at-large director Joan Adcock, who both had expressed frustration at the appearance of the tire shop at past meetings, voted against the ordinance, but all other directors voted for it.

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Directors were also introduced to Dr. Victoria Ramirez, who officially became the new executive director of the Arkansas Arts Center on Oct. 7. Ramirez thanked the board for its support of the Arts Center, which receives $700,000 from the city annually. She said construction for the new Arts Center, which will open in 2022, is “on schedule and on budget.” 

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. also told directors that the city’s Opportunity Zone Task Force, which the mayor appointed in August, will host a series of community meetings to receive citizen input on the city’s four opportunity zones

“We’re very keenly aware, as I shared in the state of the city [speech], to have an anti-displacement plan, to make certain that we are working with the community rather than telling the community,” Scott said. “We want the community to tell us what they want to see for the city’s future, moving forward in these opportunity zones.” 

The four low-income areas were selected by Governor Hutchinson in 2018, and each “zone” provides tax incentives for private investment. Scott said that after hearing the concerns of residents in each area, the task force will present recommendations to the city on a strategy for attracting investments in the zones. 

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The community meetings will take place on Feb. 6 at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library; on Feb. 13 at the Dunbar Community Center; Feb. 20 at the East Little Rock Community Center; and Feb. 27 at the MacArthur Museum Center. All will begin at 6 p.m.