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Greenwood Annexation Vote Delayed

<p>PHOTO BY CHAD HUNTER</p><p>Greenwood Councilmen Tim Terry, right, and Lance Terry take a look at paperwork Monday night, July 7, 2014, during a council meeting at City Hall.</p>Buy Photo

PHOTO BY CHAD HUNTER

Greenwood Councilmen Tim Terry, right, and Lance Terry take a look at paperwork Monday night, July 7, 2014, during a council meeting at City Hall.

On request from the city attorney, Greenwood’s City Council tabled the third and final reading of an ordinance calling for a November annexation vote Monday night.

“I would ask that this third reading be tabled until next month,” City Attorney Mike Hamby said. “I will present the final format to the (Arkansas) Municipal League and have them give a thumbs up.”

The council voted 4-1 to delay the final reading until Aug. 4. According to Greenwood Annexation Committee Chairman Robert McKinney, the ordinance requires passage by Aug. 26 to make the November general election ballot.

The annexation includes property north and west of the city, including Shadow Lake Estates, the most densely populated area in the proposal with about 125 homes. According to the annexation committee, Greenwood would benefit from additional state turn-back taxes based on the increased population.

Over a 15-month period, the Greenwood Annexation Committee reviewed the potential for annexation, then recommended the City Council let voters decide Nov. 4.

“The primary purpose of the committee was to look at the best interest of the city and residents of Greenwood,” McKinney said. “The reasons we chose to study the areas we did were based on several factors. One of those was we looked at the areas already receiving city services, such as Shadow Lake with city water and sewer, fire protection, backup police protection and so on.”

If the measure ends up in voters’ hands, it would need a combined majority of votes from Greenwood residents and those who live in the targeted areas.

Shirley Walters, who owns 60 acres in the path of annexation, asked via a letter to be removed from the proposal, stating she is opposed to the annexation.

“If I were in the city and a police officer had to come all the way out to my property, it would pull from the present residents of the city,” she wrote. “Being in the city would have no benefits to me and only restrict the use of my land.”

An anonymous poll taken of 187 Shadow Lake residents in 2013 showed 80 percent are opposed to annexation, according to the homeowners’ association, which is preparing to launch its own campaign.

“We’re going to be prepared,” association board member Carol Simpson said. “It’s just a matter of when we launch our attack.”

The association’s president, James Simpson, said he does not agree with figures from the annexation committee that indicate residents will pay an extra $32 a year if annexed.

“We’ve done the math,” he said. “It’s well over $200.”

Residents say they are also skeptical the city can provide the same level of services they currently enjoy, like county road maintenance and fire protection from the nearby Jenny Lind Fire Department.

McKinney said it is not a legal requirement that Greenwood improve the annexed areas.

“In the case of Shadow Lake, we’re already responsible for maintaining those systems,” he said. “That would come under our current plan for upgrading and replacing as required and as we have money available.”

An ordinance changing the regulation of firearms within the city limits of Greenwood was also up for its third reading. The new ordinance will allow “target practice or trap shooting at least 150 yards from any occupied structure, on a minimum of (10) acres or more, and shooting into an embankment sufficient to stop the bullet or projectile.”

An age restriction was also added. All shooting, including BB, paint ball, pellet, arrow or shaft will be restricted to persons 18 years of age or older unless under supervision of a parent or other responsible adult.

The biggest change allows lawful hunting areas to be created on land annexed after January 1, 2014. Only shotguns may be used and the area must consist of a minimum of 20 acres of open or timberland on no more than two contiguous properties. The ordinance specifies that, “No hunting or discharge of a firearm shall be permitted within Three Hundred (300) yards of any occupied building, street, public way, park, school, church, commercial and/or residential developed area. And not fired in a manner reasonably expected to cause a projectile to cross the boundary of the tract.”

Hunting must still fall under state law for additional restrictions as well as seasons and hours for discharge of weapons.

The ordinance places the fine for violating this new law at a minimum of $150 and a maximum of $1000 and new offenses can be levied daily. Law enforcement are granted the authority to seize firearms used in violation at their discretion.

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