Hiwasse Annexation Battle Continues

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Bella Vista’s hope to annex Hiwasse is over, for now. The city council decided to overturn its ordinance which would have brought the question before voters. It was news the Hiwassee Community Association was happy to hear.

The Hiwasse Community Association is meeting Thursday evening to discuss it’s next steps.

“Well, I was excited,” said Larry Kelly. “I thought, were vindicated. Our argument stands. It doesn’t make sense for Bella Vista to annex Hiwassee.”

Hiwassee residents petitioned the Benton County judge to allow them to become a part of Gravette instead, through voluntary annexation. And as of right now, Hiwasse is still moving forward with that plan.

“I had a conversation with the Gravette mayor yesterday afternoon after this information started filtering out and he and I talked about continuing in that direction,” said Kelly said.

Bella Vista city attorney Bryan Vernetti says the decision to scrap their annexation plans was purely legal. He says the law states that if you have personal property that’s highest use is agricultural or horticultural, it can’t be annexed.

and if they used the argument against Gravette, it could also be used against them.

“So instead of putting the city of Bella Vista through the suspense and time of doing an election, if we thought that it would ultimately be defeated,” Vernetti said.

But Bella Vista officials will still appeal Benton County’s decision to allow Hiwasse to become a part of Gravette.

Bella Vista residents want the Hiwassee community to stay just like it is, as an unincorporated part of Benton County.

Councilman Doug Farner wishes things had turned out differently.

“There is some disappointment but the citizens of Hiwassee they have a pretty good argument and maybe the timing wasn’t right,” he said.

Bella Vista says annexing Hiwassee would have brought new commercial business because of the planned Bella Vista Bypass.