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Jonesboro annexes controversial wrecker service

Jonesboro City Councilman Bobby Wiggins listens as city attorney Steve Fincher suggests zoning conditions that were placed on a towing company the city annexed Monday night.

Jonesboro City Councilman Bobby Wiggins listens as city attorney Steve Fincher suggests zoning conditions that were placed on a towing company the city annexed Monday night.

— The Jonesboro City Council has annexed a towing company.

After two months of delays, the council voted unanimously to approve a controversial annexation of Tara Wrecker on the southeast edge of the city on Monday. The council also voted unanimously to zone the newly added property for light industrial uses.

“We don’t want this property to turn into a junk yard,” said Mayor Joy Day.

The annexation vote means all of Tara Wrecker is now within the Jonesboro city limits, whereas only a portion of its property was previously inside the city.

The council worked with city attorney Steve Fincher during the meeting to craft several conditions Tara Wrecker must follow as a part of the city. Those conditions include a requirement that a 150-foot buffer must exist separating the cars held there from nearby neighborhoods, Leyland cypress trees must be planted along the property line to obscure sound and visibility from those neighborhoods.

“I think the year-round green would block the sight and would help with the sound during the night,” said Councilman Bobby Wiggins.

The towing company is also forbidden from permanently storing cars on its property and it must be inspected by the city code enforcement officer on a quarterly basis. Large trucks carrying cars off the property are also forbidden from traveling through the heart of the city.

The conditions were put into place because residents who live behind the towing company have repeatedly claimed the business adversely affected their homes by allegedly neglecting a buffer zone put into place by county zoning officials when they had control over the property. Residents had feared a transfer of control to the city would result in no restrictions on what Tara Wrecker could do with the property.

A small group of residents from a neighborhood next to the towing company came to the council meeting Monday to see what the council would do. One of those residents, Margaret Buffington, spoke on her neighbors’ behalf and she warned the council to be leery of Tara Wrecker.

She accused Tara Wrecker officials of not wanting to comply with any restrictions placed on them by the city. No one from the towing business was present to challenge her assertions.

“It would be to your benefit tax-wise to annex them — I understand that — but is this the type of people you want to work with?” Buffington said. “How can you make them do something they don’t want to do?”