04/20/04 — Goldsboro councilmen vote 5-2 to annex areas north and west

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Goldsboro councilmen vote 5-2 to annex areas north and west

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on April 20, 2004 2:04 PM

Goldsboro City Council members voted 5 to 2 on Monday in favor of annexing a portion of the county into the city limits, despite protests and threats of a lawsuit.

Councilmen Jimmy Bryan and William Goodman voted against the annexation.

Goodman said he voted against it because he still had some questions about the annexation.

Bryan said that it was a very difficult decision.

"Basically, I believe that the timing is not good for that particular location," Bryan said.

Protest at City hall

News-Argus/Dennis Hill

Jim Eldridge, a Wilmington lawyer representing Wayne County residents fighting annexation by the city, talks to supporters from the steps of City Hall on Monday prior to the Goldsboro City Council meeting.

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.

A crowd of between 300 to 400 people gathered on the steps of City Hall before Monday night's meeting, waving protest signs and listening to their lawyer, Jim Eldridge.

Eldridge is from Wilmington and specializes in annexation laws. He told the crowd members it would be a fight and asked them if they were in it for the long haul.

His answer was a roaring "Yes!" from the crowd.

"We're going to be taking a good look at what services the city is now providing its residents," he said. "And we'll be looking at how they're funding the annexation."

State Sen. Fred Smith made a brief appearance before the meeting to show his support for the anti-annexation crowd in front of City Hall.

State Sen. Tony Moore ran a little late, making it to City Hall after the vote was taken.

Moore said that he thought it was a "shame that we haven't taken leadership to let people have a say-so in these matters."

"People have a right to say whether or not they want to be in the city," he added.

Smith is a Republican based in Johnston County, but he also represents the annexed area. Moore, also a Republican, represents Pitt County, but is running for a seat that would include Wayne County.

The vote was taken in council chambers, which were packed with protesters and television film crews.

Mayor Al King said that the council had reviewed the procedures and issues surrounding the annexation.

"We don't take this lightly," he said. "It's something each member has wrestled with and given much soul-searching and thought."

After the vote, the protesters filed out quietly, but not before waving "The fight has only just begun" signs in front of the council.

Councilman Bob Waller told the newspaper that he understood the opposition to the annexation.

"I really do understand how they feel," he said. "But we have to look at the big picture, because that's what we're charged with."

Waller said that the council had to consider the 40,000 residents of Goldsboro, plus the other county residents.

"This is the way the city can grow," he said. "People talk about economic development and bringing industry to the area. But if you don't grow, you can't bring in new industry."

Waller also said he thought there were environmental issues regarding septic tanks, which he believed were already being looked at by the state. The area being annexed would be served by city sewer lines.

The anti-annexation group, "Good Neighbors United," is planning to appeal the council's decision through the court system.

Eldridge said that though the case would first be filed and presented in a Wayne County Superior Courtroom, the issue would probably end up in the state Court of Appeals.

The lawyer has requested all the annexation documents from the city, as well as documents from a voluntary annexation in 2002.

Two years ago the city annexed Lane Farms Inc., which had 360 acres on the east side of Salem Church Road between Stoney Hill Road and Fedelon Trail.

"That annexation interests me a great deal," Eldridge said.