Leader Blues

Friday, June 16, 2006

TOP STORY>> Judge to decide dispute

By Rick Kron
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Sherwood and Jacksonville are at odds over a proposed annexation.

Jacksonville’s planning commission has join the city council fighting Sherwood’s plans to annex about 2,000 acres of land west of Jacksonville and south of Little Rock Air Force Base.

Jacksonville’s planning commission voted unanimously Monday to side with the city council opposing Sherwood’s quest to annex the land.

Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines will review Sherwood’s request, along with Jacksonville opposition at a hearing set for 10:45 a.m. Tuesday in Pulaski County Quorum Court chambers in Little Rock.

The Jacksonville City Council voted earlier this month to oppose the proposed annexation of unincorporated land east of Bayou Meto, which serves as a “natural boundary” between the cities of Jacksonville and Sherwood, and as far north as one mile behind Little Rock Air Force Base.  

Sherwood proposed the annexation after receiving a petition from four major landowners in the area. The annexation would bring their lands into the city but make islands out of two residential subdivisions off Highway 107, near Hatcher Road and Bobbitt Lane. 

Sherwood City Engineer Mike Clayton said the annexation is by petition, meaning its voluntary.

“Those landowners are choosing to join are city. They all have developments in our city already and we have a good relationship with them.”

He said that he would hope that the residential island would also petition to join the city.

Jacksonville’s Resolution 594, opposing annexation of “certain real property” into Sherwood, maintains that Jacksonville has planning jurisdiction over the proposed boundaries, including master plans by water and wastewater utilities.

The resolution deems the proposed annexation as “neither productive nor beneficial.” Sherwood has not sought to annex the land.

One major issue concerning Jacksonville, according to City Engineer Jay Whisker, is the fact that the federal government has charged Jacksonville with maintaining low density and special building requirements in lands extending about a mile from the end of the base runway.

Part of the land Sherwood is looking to annex is in this aircraft- safety zone.

Whisker has said that how well a city cooperates with the federal government in maintaining minimal development outside the runways to prevent major loss of life or property in case of aircraft accidents is something that is looked at when base closures are considered.

Jacksonville is one of the few cities that have followed the federal recommendations, according to Whisker.

“The air base is just as important to us,” Clayton said, “and we wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize it.”

On the other issue, Whisker said it has always been Jacksonville’s plans to provide water to that area and it already has lines out there that would service much of the area.

Citing a 20-year study by Jacksonville water and wastewater officials, council members agreed that the city could provide water and sewer service to the tracts of land with the water plant currently in operation, and that Sherwood would face difficulty providing water and sewer services because of a large land ridge within and outside of proposed annexation boundaries.