SEBASTIAN COUNTY (KFSM) -- The City of Greenwood is appealing the decision to remove annexation ordinances from the Nov. 4 ballot.
Sebastian County Judge Michael Fitzhugh struck the ordinances from the ballot on Oct. 8, saying that there were Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) violations in the way the ordinances were handled with the Greenwood City Council and Greenwood city attorney, according to court documents.
The way the ordinances were handled violated the Open Meetings provision of FOIA, court documents state.
The ordinances concern the annexation of the Shadow Lake community, along with seven other land tracts, into Greenwood.
The Greenwood City Council completed the third reading of the annexation of the Shadow Lake community ordinances on Aug. 12, sending the ordinances to the Nov. 4 ballot. Lawsuits were filed in Division 12 Circuit Court, stating that Greenwood City Attorney Mike Hamby violated the FOIA in the way he modified the ordinances, according to court documents.
Before the ordinances were approved by the Greenwood City Council, Hamby said that he contacted at least four members of the council to discuss modifications to the annexation proceedings and/or ordinances. That violated the Open Meetings provision of FOIA, Fitzhugh ruled.
Fitzhugh said that the case fell within the parameters of Harris v City of Fort Smith, so, he struck the ordinances from the ballot, court documents state.
"The meetings in this matter are subject to the oversight under the Freedom of Information Act, and the actions taken by Mr. Hamby. . . violated the Open Meetings provision of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act," Fitzhugh said in court documents.
The ballots have already been printed with the issues on them and will not be re-printed, according to County Clerk Sharon Brooks.
"It's just too late," Brooks said. "You can't change the ballots because you change the definition of the ballot. That can't be changed because you would have to go back and recode the ballot."
Greenwood officials said they would consider a special election if the court appeal fails.