Southside Pushes To Become City

April 28, 2006--Posted at 7:30 p.m. CST

BATESVILLE, AR--Even though it's located just across the White River from Batesville the Southside Community is pushing to become their own city.

"In terms of zoning and in terms of spending our money and city services we rather be in control of that ourselves," said Byron Southerland, Chairman of the Southside Petition Committee.

The community feels they have the population and resources to become a thriving city.

"We have a good water system and we will have sewer service really soon. We have a lot of potential for growth," said Southerland.

One of the things holding Southside back is the approval of Batesville, due to the fact that the two are located so close together.

"City's have the right to protect their own areas and who knows in the future we might want to expand out that way," said Batesville Mayor Joe Biard.

Because of the close proximity of Batesville to the Southside Community the main issue that was debated was exactly how many natural barriers come between the two.

Both sides agreed the White River was a natural barrier, however the sides differed on whether or not Ramsey Mountain constituted a natural barrier that would serve as a buffer setting the two cities apart.

"I hope the feelings of residents from so called Southside and Batesville will get better, but it will take a period of time. And it takes some things like what we went through today to work through the problems we have," said Biard.

Independence County Judge Bill Hicks heard both sides’ arguments and plans to make a decision in the next 10 days. If approved, the issue would be on the ballot in November. The registered voters in the proposed area would then vote on whether or not Southside becomes the Arkansas' newest city.