JONESBORO — Mayor Harold Copenhaver said he is looking for ways to improve traffic safety in the wake of an alarming number of crashes in the past month.
“Since the last council meeting, most of the calls and emails from concerned residents to our office involve slowing traffic in pedestrian-heavy areas, our ongoing problems with Suddenlink and continuing our focus on cleaning up Jonesboro,” Copenhaver said at the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting of the Jonesboro City Council.
Statistics from the Jonesboro Police Department showed 299 “street accidents” in March with an additional 91 mishaps on private property. That’s well above the 2020 monthly average of 254.9.
In January, there were 242 street accidents and 210 in February.
So far, three people have died in auto crashes this year in Jonesboro, including one this week.
Copenhaver said pedestrian safety is a top priority of his administration.
“With nicer weather encouraging more people to spend time outside, we have noticed an uptick in calls concerning speeders in residential areas,” Copenhaver said. Noting the increase in car crashes, Copenhaver urged residents to slow down.
“Our police and I will have zero tolerance on any speeding, putting children and pedestrians at risk,” Copenhaver said. He didn’t elaborate.
However, Brian Richardson, the mayor’s chief administrative officer, said Wednesday the city is developing enforcement plans and options for neighborhoods to do some things to help themselves.
“We will be increasing patrols in neighborhoods for speeding,” Richardson said.
In addition, the city’s engineering department is developing some options to force traffic to slow down without installing speed bumps, which can cause damage to personal and emergency vehicles.
One option is a speed table, Richardson said.
“Speed tables are flat-topped speed humps with room for the entire wheelbase of a passenger car to rest on top,” according to Traffic Logix, a company that manufactures the devices from recycled rubber. “The flat top design allows cars to maintain slightly higher speeds than they would on speed humps, slowing cars to around 20-25 mph.”
A speed table is about three inches high and 14 to 21 feet long.
In regular business the council gave its final approval to an ordinance that adopts cottage housing design standards.
The housing option, designed for one- or two-person households, has been in the works for several months. Standards were revised a couple of times in response to questions and concerns from neighborhood groups and individuals.
Cottage homes would be built in clusters of four with a maximum of 12, all within one acre. The clusters would share common green space.
Among changes from the original draft of the standards is a provision that no more than two of the small detached houses can look alike. The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission would be tasked with deciding whether a developer’s plans blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.
Derrell Smith, the city’s planning and zoning director, said the Arkansas Legislature passed a law in 2019 that prevents cities from dictating how builders design single family homes.
“We have done as much as the state is going to allow us to do as far as design guidelines are concerned,” Smith said.
The vote to approve the measure was unanimous, with the exception of Charles Coleman, who abstained from voting.
Other ordinances approved Tuesday:
Defines and provides zoning classifications for homeless shelters.
Rezones 21 acres adjacent to 3506 Southwest Drive from commercial to RS-6 single family residential. It would provide for 72 single family homes. The property would become part of the 118-acre multi-use Southern Hills Development.
Authorizes a restaurant private club permit for Supporting Advancement Inc., doing business as Lost Pizza at Hilltop, 3410 E. Johnson Ave. The club boasts of 127 members. The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division would also have to give its approval.
The following resolutions also gained approval:
Scheduling a public hearing for 5:25 p.m. May 4 on a proposal to abandon a 12-foot alley at 101 S. Church St., at the request of Halsey Thrasher Harpole Real Estate Group.
Authorizing a $128,301 contract with Crabtree & Son Construction for rehabbing about 1,600 linear feet of existing sidewalk along the east side of South Patrick Street from the E. Boone Watson Community Center to Creath Avenue.
Authorizing a $67,265 contract with Cooper Mixon Architects to design a maintenance facility in the city’s Public Works Complex on Lacy Drive.
Accepting a $1,000 State Farm mini-grant to assist with homelessness prevention activities, such as hotel vouchers and gift cards for food.
Authorizing the city to apply for a U.S. Department of Transportation Low-No Emissions grant to cover the $3,644,848 purchase of four electric buses and two charging stations.