Blytheville City Council says no to annexation voting

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) -One Region Eight city was looking at the possibility of annexation.

The reason-- more people living in the city could mean more business coming to town.

But who makes the decision?

In most cities that decision is made by the city council.

In Blytheville the chance came to add about a thousand people to the census and several groups wanted that decision to go before the voters instead.

Mayor Barrett Harrison told me how it went down. "It was offered and read and motion was made to suspend the rules and read for the second time and the votes weren't there."

Normally a new ordinance takes three readings but this ordinance to let the voters decide on annexation was quickly laid to rest. There was debate from people who wanted to be allowed into the city limits as well as those who wish to continue being out.

It was hoped to have this annexation voted on before the 2010 census begins next year. A higher census can mean more Federal money and the chance of landing more industry in the city.

It was the result of a study put before several leadership groups in Blytheville that brought this on.

Becky Hawkins, the President of the Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce was at the meeting and one of the groups that was supporting the public election. Hawkins said the people that made the study said a vote was a good idea.

"And from that census they said we need to ask our city council to take it to the people."

The annexation would have brought in about a thousand people to the city of Blytheville in scattered areas west of Highway 312 including the municipal airport.

But considering the distance of each housing area to downtown, would there have been difficulties with fire and police protection?

Harrison, "4 real nice neighborhoods a lot of people, a lot of wonderful people who are already part of the community in some sort or fashion."

The president of the Chamber of Commerce, Becky Hawkins, says she is really disappointed in the way Tuesday night's decision went.

Hawkins, "We feel like it's a huge issue and we feel that an issue of that size needs to be brought to the people . It shouldn't be left to 6 people to make that decision for all of us."

The city had been considering the annexation but had taken no action and the chamber and other groups were pushing hard for a public vote.

Mayor Harrison, "It failed 4 to 2 and basically it's the end of it."

The annexation issue could come up again.

But Mayor Harrison says probably not in time for next year's census.

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