BROOKLAND, AR (KAIT) – The owners of several properties along the east side of Craighead County Road 760 have filed for a Petition for Annexation into the Brookland city limits. According to Mayor Ken Jones, the petition was filed in June in Craighead County District Court June 1, 2011. According to the petition, approximately 129 acres of land would be annexed into the city if approved by the Brookland City Council.
"There was 49 acres that was between the property that's being petitioned that did not want to come in a year ago, and since then we have been approached that they want to be in the city," said Jones.
Tuesday night, several members of the community will be present at the planning committee's land usage meeting. Jones said he expected city hall to be packed with residents voicing their approval for the project and their displeasure.
"You have emotions, a lot of emotions and we understand that this area has been a certain way for so many years, and people want it to stay that way," said Jones.
Jones said he's visited some apartment complexes operated by HJH Apartments. He said the company operates properties in Paragould and Jonesboro. He didn't agree with how some residents assessed the possible complex.
"They say they're trashy and not kept up, and that's the main thing, but I have went and drove through their apartments. I did it this year. I did it last year," said Jones. "If you go drive through them, they're clean and neat. The toys and bicycles are put up, they're mowed. I don't know exactly what they're talking about when they say trashy."
Jones said the overall site plan provides housing in 288 apartment units, provides a basketball court and swimming pool. The plan also appears to provide playground equipment.
"We're looking at annexation every day. We need to grow our boundaries. Brookland is kind of getting land locked on what can be built," said Jones. "We feel like we can be a spin off to some of the big industries that's coming to Jonesboro and be a supporting area off of Rogers Chapel 928."
Jones also said the project could lure small businesses into the area. He said with the recent construction project of the NEA Baptist Hospital on Highway 49, growth is moving in his city's direction.
"It's going to continue to grow and we're in that area of growth and it's finally coming toward Brookland and it's up to us to accept it or deny it," said Jones.
Jones said he's met with Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin and Police Chief Mike Yates to discuss apartment issues in Jonesboro. He said Jonesboro has an ordinance regarding nuisance abatement.
"They put an ordinance into effect to where they can address issues of apartment complexes being allowed to run down and that's something I have already asked the city attorney to look at for us because we will put that in place," said Jones.
Many residents have voiced their concerns about the project. Michael Bova lives on Craighead County Road 760. He said he doesn't want to live next to a large apartment complex. If the plan is approved, the complex would be built on farmland across from his home.
"We're afraid of crime moving in and just a little bit of everything. We're going to lose our privacy," said Bova.
Bova said he was happy with the paving of CR 760, but he doesn't want more growth in his neighborhood.
"It'll be higher traffic and we're afraid about crime and we're just used to living in the country you know, and now it's basically going to turn into city on us. We didn't move out here for us," said Bova. "We see the deer every morning and like I said, it's the country, they move that over there and it's gone."
While residents like Bova disagree with the proposal, some local businesses see the positive impact it could have on Brookland.
"We're pretty much it right now, but with more people in town, of course the taxes will help out and it'll help the community grow," said Scott Baney, who owns Fox's Pizza in Brookland. "At the time I thought it was a pretty good idea. Anytime that there's' growth in the community, it definitely can help out the smaller businesses."
Jones said the project would be possible if the owner of a 40-acre plot of land didn't reconsider annexation.
"I think they see the growth. One thing they have asked us to do is bring their property in commercial," said Jones.
Jones said the city was unable to convince property owners on the corner of CR 760 and CR 741 to annex. Because of that, the city was not able to obtain an 80-acre plot of land away from the city. By law, all property within a city limits has to be connected.
"We'd like to have a little bit of diversity, but along with that you got to have population to support it," said Jones.