County Judge Barry Hyde will hold a hearing today on a petition to incorporate a sprawling, lightly populated 8.8 square miles of mostly rural land in northwestern Pulaski County as the city of Little Italy.
The incorporation is a direct outgrowth of opposition by some in that area to modest county land use controls in the Lake Maumelle watershed, in which the area sits. There is no promise an incorporated city would abide by those controls. The addition of the unregulated acreage has an impact on the entire scheme on which the land use plan was based. Those backing incorporations have rejected ideas to put that concern to rest.
Little Italy has virtually no tax base. It has little on which to place the sales taxes that provide most operating income for cities and a small population on which to impose utility franchise fees, should it choose. It will qualify for state revenue turnback if incorporated, but it will be a pittance, not enough to operate much municipal government. For these and other reasons, support for the incorporation is pretty well non-existent outside the area itself.
The area is well organized, with campaign buttons and a Facebook page.
The League of Women Voters raised concerns about this proposal months ago and joined a number of others in opposing the incorporation. A Municipal League official also noted a downside of the proposal — once incorporated, the “city” could annex all the way back to Little Rock if it chose.