A proposal floated at the Feb. 5 Fort Smith Board of Directors meeting that would annex land into Fort Smith city limits on the east side of Barling will not become anything more than an idea.
According to Jerry Barling, mayor of the city of Barling, a meeting of the city's board of directors resulted in a resounding vote of 'no' on the plan floated by Fort Smith Vice Mayor Kevin Settle.
"The board is not in favor of it at all. We voted to table it and never bring it back up again," Barling said. "It's a dead issue for us."
Settle had originally proposed the possible annexation as a way for Barling residents to see development near the intersection of Arkansas Highway 22 and the future Interstate 49 while a ballot issue that would have allowed alcohol sales in the city is challenged in court.
He said Tuesday that once the legal challenge to the ballot issue were resolved or if Barling officials had asked for the land to be returned, the city of Fort Smith would have been happy to do so.
"It was out of the box thinking and something that would allow Barling a resolution just to get the project going," he said. "If they can get the problem resolved, I have no problem with letting them have their property back."
The proposal would not have only benefited the city of Barling, according to Settle.
"(I was) just trying to get something to create jobs for the River Valley," Settle said. "(I was) just trying to do something to help our neighbors."
But Barling did not see it that way.
"Would you want to give up a potential interstate exchange plus other lands?" he asked. "It's not a good deal for our community."
Barling added that the proposal, if serious, was not conducted in a transparent fashion for the city of Barling.
"It was a shock to us," he said, adding that no one had mentioned the proposal to any officials in the city of Barling before Settle announced his desire to explore the annexation at the Feb. 5 meeting.