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BENTONVILLE — A local judge on Monday lifted an injunction prohibiting Bentonville from annexing land Rogers wants, and the property will remain unincorporated until a dispute between the two cities is resolved.

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The Nov. 14 Rogers special annexation election will go on as scheduled as the lawsuit waits to be resolved.

Another hearing is set for 9 a.m. Dec. 15. A bench trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 16.

Source: Staff report

Circuit Judge Brad Karren ruled the injunction was unnecessary because the annexation cannot proceed until a lawsuit filed by Rogers is resolved. Rogers last week obtained the injunction to halt the annexation to Bentonville of a strip of land that splits a nearly 4.4-square-mile piece of land Rogers hopes to annex in a Nov. 14 special election.

That lawsuit itself prevents the annexation from moving forward, Karren said. Karren ordered Bentonville to not provide any services to the disputed area and that Benton County will continue to provide services to the area.

George Spence, Bentonville city attorney, and Jennifer Waymack, Rogers’ senior trial attorney, both agreed during the hearing that the filing of the lawsuit stayed the annexation according to Arkansas law.

The lawsuit names the City of Bentonville, Mayor Bob McCaslin and its council members, Benton County and County Judge Barry Moehring as defendants.

The Bentonville City Council unanimously approved the requests of 39 property owners to annex a strip of land about 2 miles long and one-fourth of a mile wide on Sept. 12.

The 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 includes nearly 2,838 acres between Rogers and Highfill.

Bentonville’s annexation cuts through the middle of that largest portion, causing complications for Rogers to obtain the land on the west side. The western piece will no longer share a border with Rogers, a requirement of state law for annexation by election.

Waymack claimed at Monday’s hearing Bentonville did not have valid grounds for the annexation. She also questioned whether Bentonville planned to provide services to the area.

Spence told Karren the only issue at the hearing concerned the preliminary injunction, which Spence said was no longer necessary because a lawsuit was filed.

Karren wanted to order mediation to resolve the dispute. Spence objected, saying the owners wanting to annex into Bentonville are not part of the lawsuit and they would have to be part of any mediation. Waymack also said mediation is not an option.

Tracy M. Neal can be reached by email at tneal@nwaonline.com or Twitter @NWATracy.

Print Headline: Lawsuit delays land grab

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