Residents fight to become own city to prevent annexation

Residents fight to become own city to prevent annexation

INDEPENDENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The small community known as Southside in Independence County is trying to become a city within the county, according to court documents filed on Monday. A local organization, Keep Southside Free, filed a petition to protect itself "from unwanted annexation and control by the city of Batesville, Arkansas."

According to Independence County Clerk Tracey Mitchell, more than 700 people signed a Petition for Incorporation in an attempt to incorporate the community. Right now, Southside is an unincorporated community without its own functioning government. The community is currently governed by the Independence County Quorum Court.

According to the petition, 1,343 registered voters live within the proposed area and a majority of those people have signed the measure.

"This request for incorporation is being made to establish and maintain an honest, fair, and transparent system of self-governance and is grounded in the inalienable rights of civic participation and equality for all citizens to freely choose what is best to ensure their rights of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness while preserving the cultural and historical heritage of the area's founders…"

Mitchell said her office is going through the signatures to determine if the measure has enough support to proceed. Mitchell said Keep Southside Free needs approximately 675 signatures to move on, and the organization submitted more than 700 signatures.

The issue will go before Independence County Judge Robert Griffin on October 24th, according to Mitchell.

Keep Southside Free will hold a meeting Tuesday night at 6 at the Allen Chapel Baptist Church.

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