Road’s name changes cause controversy

Problems include deliveries, map apps, homeowners say

Posted: January 28, 2018 at 1:11 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Signs are seen Wednesday at the junction of Morning Star and Haxton roads southwest of Bentonville.

Finding a house on what was formerly Haxton Road isn’t as easy as punching in an address into a map app.

Haxton Road touches four different governmental jurisdictions — Rogers, Cave Springs, Benton County and Bentonville — in a mile and a half. The Rogers City Council renamed the sections of Haxton Road that touched its city limits to West Pleasant Grove Road in August.

Now, there are three separate sections of the road where one side is Pleasant Grove and the other is Haxton Road. Those sections exist where Rogers is on one side of the street and Bentonville, Benton County or Cave Springs is on the other.

The change frustrates some residents and can confuse people trying to find an address on the street, including emergency responders. Rogers officials counter it improves public safety and will eventually bring cohesiveness to West Pleasant Grove Road.

Brian McDonald lives at 9622 Haxton Road. The land across the street from him will be used by Bentonville Public Schools for an elementary school scheduled to open in August 2019. That land was annexed into Rogers last year so the city could provide water and sewer services. It will have a West Pleasant Grove address.

Having one road where the two sides have different names has been a hassle for the dozen homeowners who live on the road, McDonald said.

The daily problems come when mail, food and other delivery services can’t find the proper addresses, he said. Residents have had to find a location to meet deliverymen to retrieve their items.

“It’s a mess,” he said.

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The iPhone map application doesn’t recognize the new addresses given to the homes on the renamed Pleasant Grove side. It instead gives directions to the intersection of West Pleasant Grove Road, Pinnacle Hills Parkway and South Champions Drive.

Google Maps doesn’t recognized Haxton Road any longer. It renamed the entire road West Pleasant Grove Road. It incorrectly identifies McDonald’s home on Haxton Lane, which is accessed from Haxton Road.

Rogers also renamed West Southgate Road to West Pleasant Grove Road in August. The city is building a road to connect Pleasant Grove Road, former Haxton Road, west of Arkansas 112 and the end of West Pleasant Grove, formerly Southgate Road, nearly one-mile east of Arkansas 112.

PUBLIC SAFETY CONCERN

Rogers officials say the genesis of the name change was to improve public safety while officials in other cities have concerns it could hinder public safety.

“The suggestion to change the name was championed by both the police and fire chiefs,” Ben Cline, Rogers spokesman, said in an email.

The change allows the area to match Rogers’ addressing and street number system and enhances emergency response, Cline said. Prior to being renamed, the portion of the street in Rogers was the 100 block of Haxton Road. However, the 100 block of any east-west street would be on the opposite side of the city, off of South First Street, under Rogers’ traditional numbering system.

“This change makes it easier for emergency responders to mentally reference the location of the incident using the common street name and addressing block number,” Cline said.

Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin said the name changes would likely cause more confusion for first responders because the road has seven name variations over less than a mile and a half.

Both sides are named the same in some sections, some the north side is West Pleasant Grove Road while the south side is Haxton Road and visa versa.

“It’s a public safety issue,” McCaslin said.

Justin Eichmann, Cave Springs city attorney, told Cave Springs City Council that Rogers officials asked Cave Springs to change their section of Haxton Road to West Pleasant Grove Road. The section affects three property owners.

“What’s been told to me is that it’s been causing problems with emergency services,” Eichmann told council members Jan. 9, according to a recording of their meeting.

Council members weren’t keen on the idea of changing the road’s historical name.

“This is what we’ve been used to and what the county’s been used to,” said Mary Ann Winters, council member.

The council delayed the request until its Feb. 6 meeting.

NO REPORTED ISSUES

The new addresses have been mapped according to the ordinance Rogers adopted, and all of the affected dispatch systems have been updated, said Mary Kay Sullivan, 911 director of operations for Benton County.

“It’s all plotted on the map with the addressing so when they bring up the map, they’ll see it,” she said of the dispatchers. “There hasn’t been any problems that I know of.”

Bentonville police officers patrol the area but haven’t received any calls for service or about criminal activity this year yet, said Gene Page, police community relations officer.

However, the nearly mile-wide gap between the two West Pleasant Grove roads on each side of Arkansas 112 adds to the concern for public safety since motorists, including first responders, driving west bound on West Pleasant Grove Road has to detour several miles to reach the newly named section of West Pleasant Grove Road, he said.

“Common sense dictates that State Highway 112 be the divider between West Pleasant Grove Road and Haxton Road,” he said.

Cline said the two renamed roads will be cohesive when the sections of West Pleasant Grove on the west side of Arkansas 112 and the east side of Arkansas 112 are connected. Construction is underway and should be completed in 2019.

AN UNUSUAL SITUATION

Twenty one of the region’s 32 cities share boundaries, according to Jeff Hawkins, executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission.

“We have cities growing into each other all over,” he said, adding he doesn’t know of another situation where one side was named differently from the other.

“I’ve seen it where it goes from one name to another to another, and it’s all the same road,” he said, citing Thompson Street in Springdale as an example. The street is College Avenue in Fayetteville, Bloomington Street in Lowell and South Eighth Street in Rogers.

“It’s an unusual situation,” he said of Haxton and Pleasant Grove roads.

It is more common for the city limits of two cities that border a road to be in the middle of it, but have the same name, Hawkins said.

The situation does sometimes cause issues with who is responsible for maintenance of that road. There are several roads that are shared between Bentonville and Benton County.

The city has a verbal agreement with the county that it will take care of some shared roads while the county maintains others. The agreement is easier than each working on their respective halves, said Dennis Birge, Bentonville transportation engineer.

The city also will split costs with another jurisdiction on a shared road, he said.

“This one is so new to us that we haven’t made an agreement,” Birge said of the Haxton and West Pleasant Grove roads situation.

Cline said Rogers can’t spend money outside of its city limits, so the responsibility for the street would fall to each jurisdiction.

ANNEXATION BATTLE

The Rogers council voted unanimously Aug. 22 to hold an election on Nov. 14 to annex 3,174.85 acres, most of which is between Rogers and Highfill. The city had renamed its portion of Haxton Road two weeks earlier.

“Issues with road maintenance is one of many reasons we called for a special election for the areas west of Highway 112,” Cline wrote in an email. “Roads are much easier to maintain and improve when the entirety of the road falls in one city’s jurisdiction.”

McDonald said neither he nor his neighbors knew about Rogers’ annexation plans until a news station knocked on his door Aug. 16, the Wednesday prior to the City Council vote.

He and 38 other Benton County property owners then sought annexation into Bentonville. The Bentonville City Council accepted their request in September. Rogers sued to stop the Bentonville annexation but lost.

The Bentonville annexation cut a swath through the middle of the land Rogers wanted to annex and limited Rogers’ ability to expand west. State law requires land annexed by election to share a border with the city seeking to annex it.

McCaslin said in September the city didn’t have an “agenda or intention to harm or interfere or interrupt any plans of Rogers” and was simply responding to property owners’ requests to become part of Bentonville.

Hines said before it acted that if Bentonville accepted the annexation by petition, Rogers would view it as an unfriendly act.

A couple of Cave Springs council members said in their meeting Rogers’ attempt to annex the land was so it could expand the city toward the airport.

“I can certainly see the politics here,” said Winters at the Cave Springs council meeting. “It almost makes it where we have to change it.”

Melissa Gute can be reached at mgute@nwadg.com or on Twitter@NWAMelissa.

A map showing road name changes