Cassville annexes future Barry County jail property


The Cassville City Council has voted to annex the property where the new county jail will be built, but not first without hearing concerns from nearby homeowners.

The council voted unanimously to annex the 25.42-acre tract of land behind Baywash Carwash on Old Exeter Road, citing the ability to provide water and sewer service to the incoming jail and health department buildings, as well as expanding services to other areas, as a reason for the move. Gary Youngblood, Barry

Gary Youngblood, Barry County presiding commissioner, said at the meeting that the county spends about $17,000 a year on the city’s water and sewer services.

Before the vote and discussion, multiple residents with homes on Chappell Drive south of the jail property asked to address the council.

Along with asking about how the new facilities would affect home values, Homeowner Angela Thomas brought up a concern about fencing, and if there would be any additional security measures at the jail.

Gary Youngblood, Barry County presiding commissioner, replied that there are no plans for additional fencing, but the new jail will be a more secure facility than the current jail at East and Sixth streets in Cassville. Another resident,

Another resident, Curtis Ware, said he was opposed to the project altogether.

“This jail is going in my backyard, and I have 8-and 10-year-old kids telling me to sell the house and let’s move to the lake,” he said. “If it’s God’s will or Satan’s will, I don’t know.”

Ware surmised the county overpaid for the property, and he said the county has not shared its agenda for the jail, such as costs and other details.

“We went to the commission and told them they were paying too much, and we offered to help them find somewhere else,” Ware said. “If a prominent member of the community lived here, would this still be just business? Or would it be personal? Because we were told it was just business.”

After addressing the council, Ware exited the meeting, and no county or city representatives responded to his com ments specifically.

Diana Butler spoke next, opening with a question to the council.

“How many of you would want criminals housed in your backyards?” she said.

Bill Shiveley, Cassville mayor, and Youngblood responded that they both live near the parole and probation office.

“Criminals are in and out of there and walk by our houses all the time,” Shiveley said.

Youngblood said at this point, the county has gone too far with jail planning to change course.

“We’ve gone too far to back up, and we knew from the beginning we wouldn’t find a perfect spot,” he said.

Malinda Miller was the final speaker, a new homeowner in the area.

“I bought my house in March on Chappell, and I didn’t have many chances to buy much else,” she said. “It’s a nice neighborhood and zoned residential, and the city needs more housing. What I really would want is a condo, or something like that. The city is not meeting the needs for residences.”

Miller said she was happy to find the house she did, and she is concerned that the annexation, which classifies the county’s land as commercial, could lead to more commercial buildings in the future, a negative in regards to her neighborhood.

“It would be bad if the neighborhood turned commercial, and the downtown area is deteriorating and the jail is moving from that area,” she said. “It needs revitalization, not abandonment. And now, you’re putting it all in a nice neighborhood, and that could turn it commercial.”

Before the final vote on the annexation, two City Council members responded to some of the concerns.

“I appreciate all the parties here, and I truly understand the concerns expressed — this is not a decision we have taken lightly,” said Jon Horner, Cassville alderman. “The county is going to build the jail, and bringing it into the city brings sewer and water we didn’t have in that area. Our master plan includes expanding sewer and water services to new areas, so this will help the town to grow.”

Horner said home values will be something only time will tell, but the possibility of hooking onto city services may offer incentive. He also noted by annexing the property, the county would have to follow city building codes, which do not exist in the county.

“We will have an opportunity to enforce city codes to make it more aesthetically pleasing,” he said. “There is never a perfect solution, but we will move forward and try to make the best decision.”

Alderman Mike Phillips added to the city’s position, which he views as a business in this case.

“It’s not our decision to have a jail or not,” he said. “It’s our decision whether or not to annex it in. As a business decision, if we do not annex, that’s a potential for lost revenue, because the current jail is in the city and utilizing city services. This is a good decision for Cassville with the growth potential, and we hope to tap more into that infrastructure to move the city forward.”

In response to Miller, Shiveley added the city in the last month has started working with an investor interested in building an apartment complex in Cassville.

“We are in the beginning stages of that, and it won’t happen overnight,” Shiveley said. ”We do realize there is a shortage of housing in Cassville, and we are working on it,” he said.

City Administrator Steve Walensky added the Cassville Heights addition will put 32 more apartments in the city.

Miller said she could not get into those due to the low-income requirements, and Walensky responded that increasing low-income housing and regular housing are both goals for the city.

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