08/27/04 — Annexation foes say city violated state law

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Annexation foes say city violated state law

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on August 27, 2004 2:04 PM

Goldsboro's annexation opponents filed an amendment Wednesday to their lawsuit declaring that the city's annexation violated state law.

The amendment was served in response to a ruling by a judge last month saying the city was entitled to more specific information about the allegations in the annexation lawsuit.

Jim Eldridge, a Wilmington lawyer specializing in annexation laws, was hired by Good Neighbors United, a group composed of residents in the targeted area, to fight the annexation.

The property the city voted to annex 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, that have been included are Ashby Hills, Fallingbrook Estates, Morgan Trace, Buck Run, Pineview Acres, Tarklin Acres and Canterbury Village.

Eldridge maintains that the city's annexation report didn't give specific plans for providing services, and the city didn't have a detailed statement showing how the annexation would affect city finances.

He also says the city didn't follow state laws for the voluntary annexation in 2000 of the Lane-Howell property.

The Lane-Howell property consists of 360 acres on the east side of Salem Church Road between Stoney Hill Road and Fedelon Trail. That annexation made the recently annexed property contiguous to city limits, a criteria for the involuntary annexation.

Eldridge says that the city council didn't have the required jurisdiction to annex the Lane Farms and Howell Properties in 2002 because all of the property owners didn't sign the annexation petition.

Because of that, the recent annexation is null and void because the annexed area is not adjacent and contiguous to the city borders.

The amendment also says that the city didn't provide a specific plan outlining how it would provide a similar level of sewer and water services to the annexed area, as well as additional fire and police protection.

Eldridge said that the city didn't provide a plan or reach any agreements with Fork Township Sanitary District and Belfast Patetown Sanitary District to ensure the annexed residents would pay the same lower rate that city residents pay for their water service.

He also said that the city didn't plan for a similar level of fire protection for the annexed area and that it didn't get authorization from the sanitary districts for the installation of additional fire hydrants.

In addition, the amendment said the flow rate in the sanitary district's water line was less than the flow rate for city water lines, meaning that citizens in the proposed annexation area would continue to have a higher fire insurance classification rating than city residents.

The petition also said the city failed to fix a date for the required public informational meeting when it adopted its resolution of intent to annex the property in February.

When the city tried to correct that omission, it didn't adopt the ordinance by the required two-thirds vote, the petition stated. That means the city didn't acquire jurisdiction over the annexation area, the petition said.

Former City Attorney Harrell Everett continues to represent Goldsboro in the annexation lawsuit. Everett could not be reached for comment.

City officials said they received a copy of the amendment late Thursday.

The case is scheduled to be heard in Wayne County Superior Court on Oct. 18.