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ROGERS -- The city of Rogers gave up its attempt to annex a disputed parcel of land west of Arkansas 112 on Friday during a special meeting of the City Council.

The council voted unanimously to drop the parcel from Tuesday's annexation election. The parcel is also subject to a similar annexation election set for Dec. 12 in Cave Springs, but it is unknown what effect Rogers' decision will have on that vote.

Rogers will proceed Tuesday with an annexation election on smaller parcels on its northwest borders. Early voting in Rogers has already begun.

Mayor Greg Hines said the election regarding the western land was called off because of Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren's ruling Thursday that dismissed a Rogers challenge to a recent annexation of part of the property into Bentonville. Hines said that because the ruling allowed Bentonville's annexation of part of the disputed parcel to stand, it would be impractical for Rogers to provide services to the remainder of the proposed annexation area.

Rogers' City Council voted Aug. 22 to hold an annexation election so it could obtain about 3,175 acres west of the city. The largest portion was nearly 2,838 acres between Rogers and Highfill.

Bentonville's City Council on Sept. 12 unanimously approved the requests of 39 property owners on the land to annex into Bentonville.

Thursday's hearing was in response to a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by George Spence, Bentonville city attorney. The judge ruled Rogers lacked standing and failed to state a sufficient claim against Bentonville.

Hines said he doesn't agree with the court's decision but accepts it.

Proceeding with the election for what was left of the western parcels would have created a Rogers "island" cut off by the Bentonville city limits. Hines said that would make it impossible for Rogers to provide planning and infrastructure services to the isolated area.

"It creates way more problems than solutions and makes it impractical to serve the western portion," Hines said. He also mentioned a deep disappointment in the lack of regional collaboration among cities. "I miscalculated that the city to the west of us would play this way."

Don Zimmerman, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League, said he hadn't heard of an election situation exactly like this, but he imagines any votes already collected for the western parcel of land in the Rogers election simply will not be counted.

"If it's already on the ballot as a separate question from eastern parcels and is no longer contiguous because of the land annexed by Bentonville, then it seems to me that they just won't count," Zimmerman said.

When reached by phone Friday afternoon, Cave Springs Mayor Travis Lee had not yet heard of the Rogers City Council action and said he didn't know what it meant for his city's election to annex parts of the western parcel. Lee said he would have to consult with the city attorney first.

"We just want to close the city off because it's a couple of islands at the moment," Lee said, referring to the city's interest in the land.

Lee said the Cave Springs City Council met and voted for an annexation election in response to a number of landowners who expressed interest in living in the city rather than Rogers. He speculated that annexation by petition may be a possibility if the election is canceled.

Had voters in Rogers and Cave Springs approved the same land for annexation, a third election involving just the residents of the annexation area would have been held to determine which city would get the property.

Metro on 11/11/2017

Print Headline: Rogers drops parcel from annex bid

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