Batesville opposes Southside petition to become own city

Batesville opposes Southside petition to become own city

SOUTHSIDE, AR (KAIT) - Tuesday night, the city of Batesville responded to Southside's petition for incorporation.

That petition means Southside would become their own city, keeping Batesville from annexing them into their own city limits.

This has been an ongoing issue between the two Independence County communities and in less than two weeks, we'll know if Southside will become Southside or part of Batesville.

Southside could soon become Arkansas' 501st city but Arkansas' second oldest city says that shouldn't happen. Batesville City Attorney Lindsey Castleberry drafted up a resolution opposing Southside's petition to become their own city.

At Batesville's city council meeting Tuesday night, Castleberry explained why the resolution was drafted up.

"My role, and the reason for doing it, is to defend the actions of the city," Castleberry said.

The actions Castleberry was speaking of happened in August. Batesville voted to place the Southside annexation on the November ballot for voters to decide.

Before that ever happened, over a thousand Southside residents signed a petition to become their own city.

"The people of Southside voted," John Casey said. "91% of the available voters in Southside voted to sign the petition and not be annexed. I don't know how much clearer that can be that the people of Southside do not want to be annexed into Batesville."

If approved by County Judge Robert Griffin later this month, that petition would pre-empt the November 4th election.

Casey is the co-chairman of Keep Southside Free From Annexation. He pleaded with the council before they voted on the resolution Tuesday night.

"Anything further that y'all will do to annex Southside will only contribute to the madness and further divide the two communities," Casey said.

Despite his request, all but one council member voted to back the resolution. Dr. Douglas Matthews voted against the resolution.

Following the council meeting, Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh spoke with Region 8 News about the past few months.

He said he knows that annexations are tough but his goal is to continue to grow his city.

"You find a progressive city out there, most of them have annexed property. From the Jonesboros to the Paragoulds to the Mountain Homes to the Searcys," Elumbaugh said. "So that's our vision."

On October 24, County Judge Robert Griffin will hold a hearing on Southside's petition for annexation. If approved, there will be a 30 day window following his decision in which people can file legal opposition to Judge Griffin's decision.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All Rights Reserved.