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Bentonville accepts annexation request

BENTONVILLE -- Thirty-nine property owners in Benton County may soon become residents of Bentonville instead of Rogers.

The City Council unanimously approved for their land, which is 2 miles long and one-fourth of a mile wide at its narrowest point, to be annexed into the city at its meeting Tuesday.

Council Action

Bentonville City Council met Tuesday and approved:

• A $731,000 budget adjustment for improvement to Memorial Park ballfields.

• A $10,124 budget adjustment for a new entry kiosk for the Bentonville Community Center.

• A $30,350 budget adjustment for to repair damaged lights at Phillips Park.

• A $30,000 agreement with Grubbs, Hoskyn, Barton and Wyatt Consulting Engineers for geotechnical services for the Northwest Third Street improvement project.

• Accepting $576,504 from NWA Trailblazers to complete moving utilities and building pedestrian tunnels at Southeast Eighth and Southeast J streets.

Source: Staff Report

Council members didn't discuss the item before taking the vote.

The piece of land cuts through the middle of nearly 4.4-square-mile piece of land Rogers is looking to annex through a special election Nov. 14. Rogers is looking to obtain about 3,175 acres west of the city. The largest portion includes nearly 2,838 acres between Rogers and Highfill.

Bentonville's annexation cuts through the middle of that largest portion causing complications for Rogers to obtain the land on the west side. The western piece will no longer share a border with Rogers, a requirement of state law for annexation by election.

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"Bentonville's short-sighted reaction to Rogers' call for an annexation election to appease a few at the expense of many is disappointing," Rogers Mayor Greg Hines said Tuesday after his city's City Council meeting.

Thirty-nine property owners signed a petition asking to be annexed into Bentonville. It was filed Aug. 30 with Benton County where officials certified the petition.

Three of those property owners spoke at Tuesday's meeting in favor of the annexation into Bentonville.

They commented on how Rogers city officials failed to provide them with adequate answers to their questions and concerns regarding their desired annexation.

Rogers "seemed almost hostile at times toward us," Don Rone said. "We're here this evening because we do believe we have a choice. Their position is we have no choice in the matter."

Jerry Orr said his former service in the Navy was so people in this country could have a choice. He said he'd stay in the county if he could, but since he can't, he chooses to be part of Bentonville.

"We exercised our right as citizens of this country to volunteer to be annexed into the city of Bentonville," he said.

Scott McMurtey said property owners never got a clear answer from Rogers officials on why Rogers wanted to annex so much land.

"When you live in a growth area you know you're going to get sucked up at some point," he said. "I've always thought it would be an annexation to Bentonville, and that it would be my choice."

Rogers held public meetings and city officials met with individual property owners to answer questions and address concerns, Hines said Tuesday night.

"The truth is simply not on their side," he said, explaining Rogers officials tried to be as transparent and approachable as possible about the annexation.

Hines said the area Rogers is wanting to annex is in its water service area and he was looking at the annexation from a regional planning standpoint.

"I'm not trying to land grab," he said. "I'm just trying to plan this thing out so it's not going to be piece meal."

Ward 3 council member Bill Burckart said during Tuesday's meeting the area has always been family to Bentonville as its children participate in Bentonville sports and attend Bentonville schools.

"You're part of us," he said. "I'm glad you're here. I'm sorry you've had to go through this. I support you coming here."

There have been 156 annexations to Bentonville since 2000, according to Mayor Bob McCaslin. All of them have been through the voluntary annexation process.

"I consider that a compliment to our city," he said Tuesday afternoon about the property owners who signed the petition.

McCaslin said city officials knew Rogers was trying to annex land west of its city and knowledge of that didn't alter Bentonville's behavior toward those requesting to annex. Bentonville doesn't have any "agenda or intention to harm or interfere or interrupt any plans of Rogers," he said.

"We have simply responded to the request of 39 property owners to become part of the corporate city limits of Bentonville."

NW News on 09/13/2017

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