BROOKLAND, AR (KAIT) - The city of Brookland could be growing by leaps and bounds.
Brookland Mayor Kenneth Jones said they've been looking at expanding the city limits for some time.
"We've been looking at expanding our boundaries of our city," Jones said. "We're trying to prepare for the 2020 census."
Jones said they actually started looking into the possibility of expanding the city limits at the beginning of June.
"We had some citizens with continuous land," Jones said. "They came to us wanting to petition in. I went to the council and during this same time frame we got notification from the census bureau that if you wanted to make any changes to your boundaries that would be counted in your 2020 census, that they needed to be done in 2017 or early 2018 at the most."
Next, Jones presented the idea to the council.
"When I presented the petition annexation to the city council," Jones said. "And we talked about the census, they wanted to have a work session meeting to look at our boundaries and see if there were any changes we thought we could make that would benefit the people in the area and benefit the city, as well."
A special work session took place on June 26.
"We had looked at going to the 'Y' end of Highway 49 and 49B North," he said. "Then we were approached by a developer that wants to get into the city for city sewer and water because they are developing this 750 to 1,000 multi-family living space with a golf course included in it. It would have been continuous with what we were doing. So, I drew that in to present at the special work session meeting. At the special work session meeting, we looked at what we were doing on the north end and some to the east and some to the southwest and south. And with that development potential possibly being to the north, we felt like the biggest potential for growth and to add the corridor 49 where commercial growth could happen was to go north."
Jones said it was decided at the meeting they would look north.
"Out of that meeting," he said. "It was decided we would look at a couple of subdivisions just north of us and properties that are vacant with for sale signs in front of them and the potential that brings. I mentioned we were only 2500 feet from Goobertown. And asked what they thought about going on because there is some potential growth in that area also."
Jones said a number of people attended the meeting to learn about it.
"Several people from around the surrounding area that lived outside the city attended," Jones said. "Some were against, some were asking questions. We tried to answer the questions as best as we could. But then it came down to a question of where is your most growth potential. We feel like it's north, northwest."
Jones then drew up a draft of the potential new Brookland boundaries.
"I presented it last night to the city council," he said. "The council unanimously voted 6 to 0 to take this to the public. Take it to the citizens and see if they would accept this annexation area."
Jones said now it's time to get to work.
"This is going to be a long process," he said. "We're going to try to get it on a special election ballot in November or December. We're going to try to get it in November, but there's such a lengthy process to get it on the ballot. And state law says we've got to do it in a timely manner and it gives us the time, the days, the number of days."
Jones said first they're going to have to do is consult engineers.
"The first thing we'll have to do is go to the engineers," Jones said. "We'll have to get them to draw the boundaries. And once the boundaries are defined and everybody within that boundary is identified, then we will take letter to the county clerk who will send letters to all of these land owners, letting them know that an ordinance for annexation has been passed by the city of Brookland and they're taking it to the election. Let them also know if they're not a registered voter, what time frame they've got to vote. When it's filed with the county clerk, it will go to the county judge. He will review and sign off on the annexation attempt or tell us some things we need to clarify. Then we'll go to the election commission and get everything set. So, it's a lengthy step."
Jones said he believed this annexation would be a big step in securing the city's future.
"I want the public to know this is looking at Brookland past 2020," he said. "We're looking at what Brookland's going to be in 2030 and 2040? Commercial growth and business means that your city is strong. You have money that is coming in that is not taxed on to the people. And as businesses come in it increases your state turn back from the sales and the city sales tax is increased from the sales. I think it's going to be a good thing for the city. I think the city will be stronger because of it. Not all people are going to be happy with this because it does affect people. But there are areas out there right now that may not be needing sewer at this point in time, but in a few years, they will be. And we try to protect the environment and the best way to do that is to be able to hook up to a city sewer where it can be treated and run through a plant. We want to offer that to these folks out there and to the businesses that want to locate out there. It will be a good thing for the city and the area as well."
Jones said they will be holding a public forum to answer any questions people have and listen to any concerns.
The date and location have not yet been decided.
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