Hiwasse Residents Continue Fight Against Bella Vista Annexation

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It's a battle over the town of Hiwasse. Both Bella Vista and Gravette have made efforts to annex the small farming community. Residents want to go to Gravette, but it’s not their decision.

Walking through or driving by Nova Brandon’s yard, there's no mistaking how he feels about Hiwasse being annexed into Bella Vista.

"I moved out of Bella Vista because I didn’t want to be a part of their rules and regulations of how I could have my property," Brandon says.

Tuesday Benton County approved Hiwasse residents request to be annexed into Gravette instead. And its mayor says city leaders are onboard.

"When you see that many people 70 percent of the land, 60 percent of the land owners coming together wanting to annex into Gravette and making it a better community, how can you say no?" says Gravette Mayor Byron Warren.

Now Bella Vista is saying no and planning to appeal the judge’s decision. Bella Vista city attorney says Hiwasse's request doesn’t meet any of the five Vestal requirements for voluntary annexations.

"The vast majority of the folks who spoke from Hiwasse said absolutely nothing about the Vestal Criteria and spoke primarily about how they didn’t want to be in Bella Vista,” says Bella Vista City Attorney Byron Vernetti.  “Well not wanting to be in Bella Vista isn't one of the five Vestal Criteria."

We asked Bella Vista officials why they are pushing so hard to annex Hiwasse when residents oppose it. City council member Doug Farner says the biggest reason is what's to come, the Bella Vista Bypass.

"We expect in the future when that’s developed for there to be growth in that area a lot of growth,” Farner says. “Commercial growth; which we in Bella Vista need because Bella Vista was developed as a residential community."

And as Bella Vista fights on so will the residents of Hiwasse.

"We're going to follow the democratic way,” says Larry Kelly, chairman of the Hiwasse Community Association. “We're going to play by the rules and we think were right."

Bella Vista has scheduled a vote for May 22 on its own plan to annex the Hiwasse area.

If approved, the Hiwasse Community Association says that election could also be subject to legal challenge.

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