Cherokee Village, Arkansas annexation attempt -- nipped in the bud

In early 2012 the Cherokee Village City Council and Mayor began hearing opposition to the Planning and Zoning Commission's annexation plans. Phillip Orr explains that "we realized that it was our business to impact city council decisions and future city elections even though we could not vote in the elections. We identified city council members who were in our corner, and supported them fully. Those who were trying to force annexation in our direction were replaced. We found individuals to attend every city meeting, until the city understood our determination. There was standing room only for most major meetings. After a few months, everyone in city hall wanted us gone as they said it was near impossible to get anything done with our interference. Then they started avoiding any discussion regarding annexation." Phillip Orr wrote the following letter;

"Mayor Hefley:
With the exception of college years, I have lived in Fulton and Sharp counties my entire life and currently live on 217 acres... within an area desired by Planning and Zoning of Cherokee Village.  

Our family primarily of Scottish, Irish, and English ancestries first settled in this region as early as the 1700's.  We know where the Indians chipped their arrowheads, the slaves worked the fields, where history was made, and where lives were cut short. Our holdings are possibly nothing by national standards; but, they are ours and the right to own and control our homes with agricultural acreage has never been threatened until now. 

We appreciate all that Cherokee Village has to offer and have family members and friends largely responsible for its existence; but, in due respect, the city of Cherokee Village constantly has issues with governing its 14,000 acres, while the stewards of the estimated 3,680 acres Cherokee Village desires, remained peacefully happy until now.  We do not have dog and cat issues (they run free, guard their turf, and take care of pests), if a cow or horse gets out, we help each other.  No one has to tell us to run off a Cherokee Village trespasser, maintain our homes to a standard suitable to some inspectors personal agenda, cut a tree off the fence or out of the road, shoot a rabid skunk that's not welcome on my property, how or where to build a fence or out building, where to park our equipment, to help a friend with a flat, or take food to a neighbor in need, and we certainly do not have to form a committee for neighborhood watch or anything else.  We naturally take care of each other, while we run our businesses, raise our gardens, families, cattle, horses, deer, squirrels, turkey, trees, crops, and pasture, as we see fit.  We do not need advice about controlled burns of woods or pasture, permits, business license or additional taxes for protection or recreation.

I like where I live, I like my friends, family, and neighbors------and I plan to defend our property rights to the bitter end.  Until now, I have avoided your Cherokee Village city of planning and zoning, for many reasons.  Until now, you have not made it my business to oppose your infringements on the rights of others.  In reality, we should gate the community we occupy from Cherokee Village, until you gain the ability to govern yourself better.  The fact that you would try to take control of the property of others that are doing a better job of controlling its use than you could ever dream of doing in Cherokee Village is evident.  In fact, I would support a mandate to install barriers at the Cherokee Village access points on Yankton Rd, Onaga Rd and the Kenner Rd access to your mobile homes, as a healthy start for elimination of your attempted infringement on the rights of others.

For those of you that have not lived here long enough to know the reasons why the message above is far more progressive than your so called idea of expansion at the expense of others, maybe you need to revisit some thought about what is right and what is wrong about your proposed expenditures toward annexation. "In every civilized society property rights must be carefully safeguarded; ordinarily and in the great majority of cases, human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in the long run, identical."  ~ Theodore Roosevelt 

If you think your council of eight would be favored by any judge or jury in this land, you are sadly mistaken because your basis of annexation would be considered blatantly abusive of the rights of others.  Here is a little free advice.  Save your money that your city desperately needs to spend wisely.  Leave us alone by not funding any initiation toward annexation, unless you want a lengthy legal battle.  We have the resources, we are pleased with the support of Fulton County officials and surrounding communities, and we will fight to protect our rights to the highest courts. "

Annexation opponents attended Cherokee Village city council meetings two months in a row and made their opposition very clear. In an article dated 2/23/2012, Area Wide News reported that a record 150 angry residents showed up at the February city council meeting. The mayor refused to allow any public discussion of the annexation proposal during the meeting. After the meeting adjourned, many of the council members stayed and listened to annexation opponents speak. Phillip Orr said, "There are a lot of reasons for the landowners to be opposed to being annexed into the city of Cherokee Village. For instance, the city has an ordinance against livestock. If we are annexed, then what about our farms? Even if they grandfather in our right to have livestock, what about if a farm sells someday? The buyer isn't protected. The property value will be devastated."

Citizens Against Annexation Beverly Nix of Jonesboro, daughter of one of the potentially affected landowners, wrote a letter asking, "How many additional policemen, fire fighters, police stations, fire stations, trash pickup, etc. would the expenses be for this annexation? If you cannot provide the services and balanced budget for the current city area what is your thought process in adding additional land thus requiring additional expenses?" The Spring River Chronicle also did a story on this meeting.

At the next city council meeting in March, again a large group of annexation opponents attended. In order to avoid the annexation topic, the meeting was adjourned early. The citizens formed a group called Citizens Against Annexation. Their first meeting is pictured at left. Later Residents of Cherokee Village Opposed to Annexation was organized. The council eventually dropped their annexation plans.