A fresh committee charged with exploring Greenwood expansion met for the first time last Thursday.
Formed at the request of Mayor Del Gabbard and the City Council, the committee has been given the nod to pursue annexation possibilities that include land west to the future Interstate 49.
"We’re starting from ground zero tonight," committee member Steve Ratterree said. "There’s not a plan in place already. Anything is up for discussion. Anything is on the table."
Committee member Jim Newcomb, a former city councilman, said, "What we’re trying to do is protect Greenwood."
"We’ve got Fort Smith coming down from the south," he said. "They’ve got the river north of them, they’ve got the state line on the west of them, Chaffee on the east. They’re coming south."
Former city councilman and current Planning Commission member Robert McKinney was selected as committee chairman. He was the city’s representative on an annexation committee in 1999.
"We filled out a number of surrounding places, worked with the landowners and brought all of this into the city," he said. "Our feeling at that time was that we did not want to do any annexations by election. We wanted friendly takeovers."
Annexation of areas that Greenwood does not surround would end up in voters’ hands.
Gabbard said the vote would include "the ones we’re trying to annex, as well as the ones in Greenwood."
A public relations campaign would be directed toward those in the path of annexation, Ratterree said.
"We need to be out there talking to these folks," he said. "We’ll put together a PR campaign that talks about the pros and cons."
During a public portion of Thursday’s meeting, a resident asked if the community of Shadow Lake Estates, just outside the city, is considered for annexation.
"That’s yet to be determined," Ratterree said.
According to the city, there are about 130 homes in the Shadow Lake community.
Ratterree said current legislation in Little Rock could affect the city’s plans for expansion.
"We have several bills that are currently either in the House or Senate that impact the end result for annexation," he said. "Some of those may stop us in our tracks."
He cited House Bill 1773, which determines planning boundaries based on a city’s size.
"Currently, we have a five-mile boundary," Ratterree said. "This would pull us back to a mile. We’d really like to be able to reach out a little bit further than a mile."
Greenwood is currently 9.82 square miles according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In addition to Robert McKinney, Jim Newcomb and Steve Ratterree, the committee members also include former Greenwood Mayor Gary Campbell, Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck, County Judge David Hudson, Means Wilkinson of Farmers Bank, Chris Bater from Senator Womack’s office, City Councilman Craig Hamilton, Kevin Hesslen from the Greenwood School Board, Jeff Turner from the Sebastian County Sherriff’s Office, former Sherriff Gary Grimes, Bob Beams from First National Bank, and Rod Powell from the Greenwood Parks Commission.
The City of Greenwood’s Department Heads will serve as advisers to the committee. These include Doug Kinslow (Parks), Tim Posey (Water), Greg Cross (Wastewater), Joe Manus (Streets), Stewart Bryan (Fire), Will Dawson (Police), Sonny Bell (Planning) and Del Gabbard (Mayor).
The committee decided to meet on the fourth Thursday of each month at City Hall.