Rogers council chooses city ward plan with the most room for growth in the south and west

ROGERS -- The City Council chose the new city ward proposal with the most room for growth in the city's south and west during a special meeting Monday.

The council also declared a special meeting to begin at 8 a.m. today at City Hall to discuss replacing Mark Kruger, the council member who died May 1.

The Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission drew up at least four options of new ward boundaries for the city to consider, according to discussion at Monday's meeting.

Boundaries are redrawn after each U.S. census, which the federal government conducts every 10 years. The last took place in 2020. The goal of redrawing boundaries is to ensure equal representation, though the plan adopted left fewer residents in the city's fastest-growing wards. The regional commission did this at the city staff's request so the newly drawn maps would not become lopsided again shortly after their adoption.

The new boundaries put 16,828 residents, as of the April 2020 census tally, in southwest Rogers' Ward 3 and 16,574 in Ward 4 in the southeast. This compares to 18,199 in Ward 1 and 18,307 in Ward 2.

The council unanimously adopted the third map proposed by the regional commission, which was also the map Mayor Greg Hines recommended. Hines acknowledged a major apartment complex being built downtown in Ward 1 may add more residents to that ward than believed at the time the maps were drawn, but still favored leaving the southern wards more room to grow. The council agreed.

The new ward boundaries took effect immediately upon passage of the ordinance adopting them and its emergency clause, both approved unanimously. Anyone wishing to challenge the newly adopted map has 90 days to collect a petition with at least 100 signatures from city voters and file it in circuit court, according to discussion at the meeting.

Two council members are elected from each of the city's four wards. Council members in Rogers run in citywide elections, but the ward system ensures different portions of the city have representation on the eight-member governing body.

Rogers' population reached 69,908 on April 1, 2020, according to the census. The city's population in the 2010 census was 55,964, U.S. Census Bureau figures show.

With the death of Kruger, the city's longest-serving council member, the council must decide how to fill Kruger's unexpired term, which ends Dec. 31, 2024. Under state law, the council can either appoint a new member by majority vote or set a special election.

The Bentonville City Council approved new boundaries for its four council wards in February. Fayetteville and Springdale redrew their wards last year.