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Hearing set for today on Southern Classic move

Council to learn about opioid settlement funds, city’s finances during regular meeting by Tia Lyons | June 8, 2023 at 12:00 a.m.
El Dorado City Hall is seen in this News-Times file photo.

The El Dorado City Council will get a jumpstart on its regular meeting today by holding a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber of City Hall.

The hearing pertains to a request to abandon an undeveloped alley in the 900 block of East Hillsboro in order to make way for the new site of Southern Classic Chicken.

The popular fried chicken restaurant, 1112 E. Hillsboro, is expected to relocate about a block west to accommodate long-running plans by the Arkansas Department of Transportation to widen and improve Hillsboro/U.S. 82-B through El Dorado.

The proposed site sits on just over an acre of land between Nelson and Hawthorne avenues in the Few Dees Subdivision.

Petitioner Alan Fanning, owner of Southern Classic, D/B/A Chick-A-Dilly Restaurants, submitted the request to Mayor Paul Choate's office on May 10.

The city council reviewed the request during a regular meeting the following day and passed a resolution to schedule the public hearing.

City Attorney Robert Rushing explained that Fanning purchased several lots in the area and an undeveloped alley abuts three lots that face East Hillsboro and another lot nearby.

"So, you can't build until the alley is abandoned, and he thought he had more time with (ArDOT), but they want him out of his building as soon as possible," Rushing said.

Mayor Paul Choate noted that the alley measures about one-tenth of an acre and is "unimproved and unused," with Rushing adding, "It has never been utilized as an alley."

"I met him over there to look at all of it and it'll be much improved when he gets through with it," Council Member Buddy McAdams said.

Another undeveloped alley in the area was abandoned by the city in 1999, according to a land survey.

Southern Classic is one of several businesses along the Hillsboro/U.S. 82-B corridor that is required to close, relocate or be pushed back farther from the road to accommodate the highway improvement and expansion project.

The council will consider an ordinance to abandon the alley during its regular meeting, which will immediately follow the public hearing.

In other business, the council is expected to hear a presentation from Kirk Lane, director of Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership.

Lane oversees the distribution of funds that counties and cities around the state have received in settlements from litigation against manufacturers and distributors of opioids.

The effort began in 2018, with several Arkansas cities and counties jumping aboard to sue opioid companies and use settlement dollars to stem the opioid epidemic in Arkansas.

Lane began serving as Arkansas' drug director in 2017 and worked to coordinate "a statewide effort to prevent drug overdoses, treat substance misuse and provide resources for Arkansans battling drug problems to find and maintain recovery."

He resigned last year to take the job as director of Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership.

During today's city council meeting, Lane is expected to discuss the partnership, how the city can get its share of settlement funds and how the funds are to be used.

Council Member and Finance Committee Chairman Vance Williamson is on the agenda to present a financial report, which will include quarterly budget adjustments that will require action from the council.

The Finance Committee met Tuesday to review year-to-date numbers.

Also under new business is a request from the El Dorado Police Department for temporary funding to meet the requirements of a grant.

The city will be reimbursed for the funds, per the terms of the grant.

Police Chief Kenny Hickman is expected to provide more details about the grant.

Another round of building condemnations will also be presented to the council for consideration.

Print Headline: Hearing set for today on Southern Classic move


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