Despite some initial complaints by one member of the Pine Bluff City Council, a proposed ordinance to require businesses to keep up their parking lots and to provide that commercial trash containers be enclosed was approved without dissent Monday night.

Among other things, the ordinance requires that all off-street parking areas be maintained to prevent areas of standing water, potholes and dust, and that the lots be striped and lined. Entry and exit points from the business must also be maintained and kept free of potholes to allow vehicles to safely enter and exit the lot.

During a pre-meeting when the council was going over requested budget adjustments, Alderman Win Trafford said that some things in the ordinance needed to be addressed before the city began to enforce the ordinance, particularly since the ordinance provided that no businesses would be grandfathered in.

Trafford wanted the ordinance sent back to the Pine Bluff Planning Commission to address those concerns, since the council could not amend the ordinance. One of his major concerns was the requirement that business parking lots be hard surfaced, saying that businesses that sell farm equipment for example needed to be gravel since the equipment would tear up a hard surface.

“This is just not business friendly,” he said. Zoning Official Lakeisha Hill described the ordinance as a “maintenance ordinance,” explaining that currently, she did not have the right to tell a business to maintain their parking lot in a workable condition.

Hill said the ordinance was modeled after similar ordinances in a number of other cities, including Little Rock, North Little Rock and Jonesboro. The Planning Commission had discussed the proposal several times and held public hearings; there was no opposition.

When asked, Hill also said that the current city ordinance, which this new one amends,has always required that business parking lots be hard surfaced. Quality of Life Director Evelyn Horton said she has received calls from several people complaining about the condition of the parking lot at a dollar store in the Dollarway area, and Fred’s on Camden Road, particularly about ruts and potholes at the entrances and exits.

The ordinance will seek voluntary compliance from the business community before any legal action is taken, and any violations that currently exist may be considered as a misdemeanor offense and subject to being fined.

A proposed ordinance that would waive competitive bidding and let the city contract with TLC Communications to look for ways to save money on telephone bills was read once and was referred to committee. Additionally, a proposed ordinance that would remove the Quality of life Division from the Police Department and establish it as a separate entity under the mayor was pulled by its sponsor, Alderman Steven Mays.

The council also approved the appointment of Rosie Thomas Pettigrew to the Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission for a term that will expire Oct. 31, 2021. She replaces Jimmy Dill, whose term expired and who continued to serve until a replacement was named.