Plan is unveiled to annex land north and west of Green Forest

Friday, December 8, 2006

GREEN FOREST -- Mayor Richard Deweese presented a preliminary plan to annex land north and west of the city at a Monday Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

"Most of this land is not developed," said Deweese. "It is mostly agricultural, so it's real good for growth and a lot of its infrastructure is already in place.

"Also, we could feed industry really well."

Planning and Zoning Commission member Carroll Allison asked the mayor about the benefits residents would gain by becoming part of the city. He said in recent history, residents of the Marriott Addition off of Ark. Hwy. 311 were asked to be annexed, but they didn't want it because they already had city services without paying city taxes.

"Now we have a moratorium," explained Deweese. "Once they are inside the city limits they can begin adding homes on city water."

Planning and Zoning Commissioners reminded the mayor that a similar annexation plan was proposed before, but was vetoed.

After talking to some residents from the area, Deweese said he felt they would have agreed to the plan if they were shown a sewer plan.

The new preliminary annexation plan will come with a sewer plan that will be completed between three to five years, said Deweese.

He added that once engineers "get more specific with the plans," they will know more as far as cost is concerned. "If it is cost prohibitive to provide the sewer within three to five years, then we need to leave them alone.

"We need to make sure it is something we can actually do and we need to be able to tell residents how we are going to do it."

Residents in the area already receive city water services, he said.

Police Chief John Bailey, who was attending the meeting, told Deweese he was under the impression that residents didn't want the annexation the last time because of an issue with land zoning.

"They were told if they owned a poultry farm that they could continue to operate the farm until they went to sell their land at which point they would not be able to sell it as agricultural," said Bailey.

Deweese explained unless the land use was changed, then the zone would remain agricultural. "We are not going to shut down anyone's farms," he said. "I mean, that's taking away their livelihood."

He added that if the city could accomplish the annexation before 2010, it would receive more monies from state turnback funds that are based on the city census.

With the annexation, Deweese said the census could possibly jump from its current population of 2,700 to between 3,000 and 3,500.

"That's a pretty big rise from now and it would make a big impact on the taxes that we would get back from the county," said Deweese.

Some of the businesses that would be included in the annexation are Das Butcher Haus, Sneed Carpet, Powell's One Stop, Economy Mobile Homes, Norris Realty, the Las Cazuelas Mexican Restaurante and Green Forest Foods, formerly known as the Green Forest Egg Company.

Deweese stated that adding those businesses to the city could generate more city sales tax revenue.

The next step toward the annexation, said Deweese, is to ask the council's permission to proceed with the exploration of a possible sewer infrastructure in the area.

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