04/06/04 — Annexation opponents take fight to City Hall

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Annexation opponents take fight to City Hall

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on April 6, 2004 2:04 PM

Opponents to the city's proposed annexation packed City Hall on Monday, filling not only council chambers but spilling over into two other board rooms.

More than 300 people showed up, many waving anti-annexation signs.

Protest at City Hall

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

Mayor Al King faces annexation opponents at Monday night's hearing.

The area proposed for annexation is on the east and west sides of Salem Church Road and on the north and south sides of Buck Swamp Road. Some subdivisions, or parts of subdivisions, have been included. They are Ashby Hills, Fallingbrook Estates, Morgan Trace, Buck Run, Pineview Acres, Tarklin Acres and Canterbury Village.

Mayor Al King set a three-minute time limit per person speaking, as well as setting the tone for the evening, saying that the meeting would be conducted with dignity and respect.

And though there were emotional pleas, a few tears and some harsh words about the proposed annexation, the crowd was respectful.

Bill Burnette presented a three-page letter outlining reasons why the city should not approve the annexation.

One reason was a petition protesting the annexation with close to 470 signatures from affected residents.

Burnette also felt that the city would not be able to provide any service that residents didn't already have, with the exception of sewer lines. Installing sewer lines, he said, would be extremely costly to both the city and the residents.

"This cost for both the residents and the city does not make sense if the service is not needed," Burnette said. "The city cost to install essential sewer lines is in the millions. Can you truthfully afford it?"

Burnette said the city would not be providing water service.

"Residents will keep their existing water service, which costs more than city provided water, although the proposed annexed area will pay the same tax rate as existing city residents," he said.

Burnette pointed out that the city met state law requirements for involuntary annexation by purposely maneuvering the boundaries and by omitting residents with large amounts of property.

"And in some cases, you have not included the total acreage of residents who have been included in the boundary," he said. "This selective process could have legal consequences."

Burnette said that there were areas closer to the city center that had not yet been annexed.

"According to current city maps, certain residents along Salem Church Road are not in the city because they were left out of previously approved voluntary annexations," Burnette said. "These areas have created 'doughnuts' that require county services, fire and police to travel through the city when called to respond."

Brenda Mozingo said that not only was annexation a bad financial decision for her family, it was also a bad investment for Goldsboro.

Larry Pierce who lives in Fallingbrook said the residents have a large but close community.

"We're not anti-Goldsboro," he explained. "We're pro-community."

Jim Bowen said that the city would receive around $350,000 annually in property taxes, but would take 35 years to pay off the $7.3 million annexation debt.

"Your mediocre services will be spread thinner," he said.

Sandra Hinnant told Councilman Jimmy Bryan and newly sworn-in Councilman Jackie Warrick that she knew they had inherited the problem, but asked them not to be part of the "subterfuge."

Ms. Hinnant said that the city had not passed any resolution regarding annexing the area in 2001, when residents in the area tried to incorporate.

"One year later, you adopt a resolution and annex some land out there in 2002," she said. "This smacks of under-the-table deals."

Lisa Cantrell, and her son Cory, told the council that they could not afford the extra taxes and sewer assessment costs.

Holding up a sign stating "Sewer Lines = My College Fund," Cory said that "the sign pretty much says it all.

Sharon Mozingo said she wasn't one to oppose growth, but thought the money could be better spent to revitalize Goldsboro and bring in new businesses.

Bob Pleasants, a resident and also a county extension agent, said what concerned him was not whether the city had technically complied with the law, but rather the moral issues.

"This is action that is inherently immoral," he said. "Forcibly subjecting us to annexation is tyranny and extortion ..."

Jerry Murrow, who is in the Air Force, said he would have to pay $5,000 if the city annexed the area.

"I fight for your freedom to make a choice every day, but you are taking that choice from us," Murrow said.

Judy Stevens said the city had nothing to offer, and she had nothing to give, while Phil Hardy said, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The Rev. Charles Gentry asked that the council make the right decision.

"Don't let it be a political decision," he said, "let it be a moral decision."

Terry Braden quoted Proverbs, saying "There is wise counsel in many voices."

None of the council members commented during the hearing. The council is scheduled to vote on the annexation at its next meeting on April 19. If the annexation passes, the effective date will be June 30.