Barling Mayor: Annexation a ‘vague deal’ (Updated)

story by Ryan Saylor
rsaylor@thecitywire.com

Editor's note: Updated with comment from Fort Smith City Director Kevin Settle.

An annexation proposal from Vice Mayor Kevin Settle at the Fort Smith Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 5) may not go far due to prior agreements regarding growth between the cities of Fort Smith and Barling.

Settle announced his idea for annexation near the end of the board's regularly scheduled meeting, explaining that the annexation would allow for alcohol sales in an area hungry for growth.

"By a two-thirds vote they passed a liquor law allowing Barling to grow and prosper, but that has stopped because of legal issues," Settle told board members Tuesday.

He said Barling residents already work, eat and shop in Fort Smith and an annexation would allow the residents to see growth in their community, even though the alcohol sales vote passed by voters in November is in litigation.

But according to Barling Mayor Jerry Barling, he was never approached about Settle's proposal to annex property surrounding the intersection of Arkansas Highway 22 and the future Interstate 49, which is under construction.

Barling said current agreements established more than a decade ago set boundaries that the cities of Barling and Fort Smith must abide by.

"I don't understand what they're doing," he said. "It's such a vague deal."

Jeff Dingman, Fort Smith's deputy city administrator, confirmed Barling's assertion that both cities had previously-established boundaries.

"Several years ago, when all of the property at Fort Chaffee was being delineated, there was an agreement about where the city lines would be," Dingman said.

He said Settle did not make city leaders aware of his proposal prior to the meeting.

Should Settle's proposal move forward, Dingman said annexation would still be a long way off.

"Ray (Gosack) and I talked about it a little this morning, but there's a lot of footwork to do to even get started down that direction and mainly it would be a discussion with the city of Barling," he said. "I don't know that there's interest on Barling's side."

Mayor Barling did not seem to excited about the prospect of annexation of the land around Highway 22 and I-49.

"I don't know what they're talking about, I haven't talked to Kevin, the mayor or anybody up there," he said.

UPDATE: In response to Barling Mayor Jerry Barling's assertion that he did not understand what Fort Smith Vice Mayor Kevin Settle was doing by proposing a possible annex of property east of Barling, Settle said he was simply trying to provide a solution that would allow for development of land located at the Highway 22/I-49 intersection.

"I didn't speak out of turn," he said.

Settle said he was aware of the agreement both cities had made regarding establishing clear boundaries, as well.

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"I knew about that agreement," he said. "I was trying to give Barling another option to consider."

Now that Settle's idea has been made public, he said it is up to Barling city leaders on whether to proceed with exploring a possible annexation.

"If they don't want to, I fully understand. It would be something that would take some discussions between the city administrations," Settle explained.

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Comments

Barling is Probably Better Off Being Barling

First isn’t it kinda arrogant of Kevin Settle to even “extend an olive branch to Barling”, without first discussing it with the mayor of Barling? Kevin said he wants to help Barling grow and prosper? Looking at growth records for the past 10 years just about every city in Arkansas has outgrown Fort Smith. Even Barling, left to itself has grown 11.4% versus Fort Smith at 7%, since the year 2000. Fayetteville has grown at 27.3%, Conway 37.4%, Jonesboro 21.5%, Rogers 45.5%, Springdale 53.2%, Bentonville 80.2% and Van Buren 20.1% since the year 2000. And Kevin wants to help Barling? Barling doesn’t have the same harsh zoning and regulations Fort Smith has. I think Barling would probably be better off solving their liquor problem without seeking annexing from Fort Smith.
First isn’t it kinda arrogant of Kevin Settle to even “extend an olive branch to Barling”, without first discussing it with the mayor of Barling? Kevin said he wants to help Barling grow and prosper? Looking at growth records for the past 10 years just about every city in Arkansas has outgrown Fort Smith. Even Barling, left to itself has grown 11.4% versus Fort Smith at 7%, since the year 2000. Fayetteville has grown at 27.3%, Conway 37.4%, Jonesboro 21.5%, Rogers 45.5%, Springdale 53.2%, Bentonville 80.2% and Van Buren 20.1% since the year 2000. And Kevin wants to help Barling? Barling doesn’t have the same harsh zoning and regulations Fort Smith has. ...>> Read the entire comment.

barling

its very interesting that barling is growing ant 11.4% and fort smith is only at 7%. maybe kevin settle should be asking the mayor of barling what his secret is for growth or better yet get some advice from bentonville that has a 80.2% growth rate.

Regional cooperation like you

Regional cooperation like you see in Northwest Arkansas or Central Arkansas is a leading cause of why growth is so massive in those metropolitan areas. Why not let Fort Smith annex a small portion of the land under the condition that the rest of the development moves forward and stays within Barling city limits? If you really want to see growth in the Greater Fort Smith region then stop looking for any little detail you can find just have something to moan about. Try looking for the good, and get out to promote that good like the citizens in Little Rock, Fayetteville, Springdale, Conway, Bentonville, Rogers, and even Jonesboro do. They take pride, while all people here can do is be envious.
Regional cooperation like you see in Northwest Arkansas or Central Arkansas is a leading cause of why growth is so massive in those metropolitan areas. Why not let Fort Smith annex a small portion of the land under the condition that the rest of the development moves forward and stays within Barling city limits? If you really want to see growth in the Greater Fort Smith region then stop looking for any little detail you can find just have something to moan about. Try looking for the good, and get out to promote that good like the citizens in Little Rock, Fayetteville, Springdale, Conway, Bentonville, Rogers, and even Jonesboro do. They take pride, while all ...>> Read the entire comment.

Not Regional Cooperation, But Freedom to Work Hard & Cooperation

Regional cooperation isn’t responsible for the gigantic success in NWA, my friend. It was hard work and the local municipalities supporting and encouraging small startup companies to grow and expand. For those reasons, those companies became giant international companies. That is the reason for the growth in NWA. If Kevin Settle and the Fort Smith Region wants to grow, then maybe they should adopt the same simple secrets from Northwest Arkansas, or even Jonesboro…a small little city with no interstate system, no riverfront, or convention center. As a matter of fact, the Jonesboro mayor told his A&P that if the A&P wanted a convention center, the A&P could use the 3% hotel tax to pay for the land and then contract with private companies to build and operate the convention center, because he wasn’t going to obligate the citizens of Jonesboro “ONE PENNY” towards a convention center. And yet Mayor Sanders, who sits on the A&P board, allows the taxpayers to subsidize between $700,000 to $1.3 million per year for the convention center and the A&P without scaling back huge salary packages and expenses.
Regional cooperation isn’t responsible for the gigantic success in NWA, my friend. It was hard work and the local municipalities supporting and encouraging small startup companies to grow and expand. For those reasons, those companies became giant international companies. That is the reason for the growth in NWA. If Kevin Settle and the Fort Smith Region wants to grow, then maybe they should adopt the same simple secrets from Northwest Arkansas, or even Jonesboro…a small little city with no interstate system, no riverfront, or convention center. As a matter of fact, the Jonesboro mayor told his A&P that if the A&P wanted a convention center, the A&P could ...>> Read the entire comment.