04/04/04 — Annexation opponents to hire lawyer

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Annexation opponents to hire lawyer

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on April 4, 2004 9:25 AM

Opponents to Goldsboro's proposed annexation met Friday and decided to hire a lawyer as a way to stop, or delay, the annexation.

Close to 140 people gathered for the meeting, not to rant and rave about the proposed annexation, but to formulate a plan to legally stop the process.

The city is considering annexing an area, on the east and west sides of Salem Church Road, and the north and south sides of Buck Swamp Roads.

Several subdivisions are within the proposed area, such as Ashby Hills, Fallingbrook Estates, Morgan Trace, Buck Run, Pineview Acres, Tarklin Acres and Canterbury Village.

But, as area resident Bill Burnette pointed out Friday, not all the people within the subdivisions are included in the area to be annexed.

"Only three lots in Canterbury are scheduled to be annexed," he said.

In addition, Burnette said, there were two houses on one of the roads in a subdivision that were not included in the annexation. He asked the city planning department why those two houses weren't included.

The answer, he said, was because one property owner had 20 acres of land and the other had 15 acres.

"The line cut through there because if you include them, you mess up the formula for population density and total area rule that's needed for involuntary annexation," he said. "The lines were maneuvered to meet the state requirements."

Burnette said that he wouldn't feel the way he did about the proposed annexation if he thought that opposing it would be "stiff-arming progress."

State laws for involuntary annexation provide a means for orderly growth for cities, he explained. But, Goldsboro's annexation plans don't demonstrate orderly growth.

"I'm concerned about the stench of this whole thing," he said. "The gateway providing this annexation was a voluntary annexation approved by the city two years ago."

He was referring to the annexation of Lane Farms, Inc., which was unanimously approved by the council on June 3, 2002. The property included 360 acres on the east side of Salem Church Road between Stoney Hill Road and Fedelon Trail.

According to minutes from the 2002 council meeting, only one person spoke in opposition to the voluntary annexation. That was Wilber Anderson, of Airport Road, who said it would impede the proposed incorporation of a nearby area.

The reason given for the 2002 annexation was that the annexation, and subsequent zoning of the area would increase the possibility of commercial development and allow for the eventual growth to be properly managed.

Nothing has been been built on that land yet.

Burnette said that because the laws differ for voluntary annexation, nearby property owners didn't have to be informed about the 2002 annexation.

"That annexation provided the gateway to this proposed annexation because it made our boundaries touch the city border," Burnette said. "That annexation also stopped the Northbrook Community"

Several years ago residents in the area tried to form a separate town, called Northbrook, but it was stopped last year by the state because the area now bordered on Goldsboro.

Burnette said that there were areas closer to the city, such as spots on Wayne Country Day Road and Wayne Memorial Drive, that weren't in the city limits.

"They'll go five miles out to get us, but won't go one mile to get those places on Wayne Country Day," he said.

Burnette likened Goldsboro's annexation policy to a mudball thrown against a wall.

"The biggest part of the mud is the main part of the city," he said, "and the splotches around it are the area it has annexed. The state says expansion should be controlled."

County Commissioner Andy Anderson said the group should use delay tactics to fight the annexation.

"I'm not here for political reasons," Anderson said. "I'm here because where I live is next. Fill the place up Monday night. Hold them off and reason with them."

Burnette said he asked Jimmy Rowe, the city's assistant planning director, which councilman originally proposed the annexation, but said that Rowe didn't know.

"Someone proposed it," Burnette said. "The council didn't just stand up like the Morman Tabernacle Choir and sing let's annex this area."

One man in the audience said that it was probably the city manager that brought the subject up.

"I think the people of Goldsboro should be upset about this annexation," said a man in the audience. "It's going to cost the city $7.2 million to annex."

The man said that the additional taxes gathered from the proposed annexed area wouldn't begin to cover the cost of annexation for the city, and that it was going to take the city 30 years to pay the money back.

"They're not going to hire additional people to serve this area," the man said. "So the trash problems in the city will get worse. The mediocre services offered by the city now will be sliced in two, and the city will be in debt for 30 years."

The group agreed to hire a lawyer, probably the one Burnette has been speaking with in Wilmington. That lawyer, Jim Eldridge, specializes in annexation cases.

"But when we go to the public hearing on Monday, I hope City Hall won't hold the people," Burnette said.