12/29/04 — Annexation case still without judge's decision

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Annexation case still without judge's decision

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on December 29, 2004 2:00 PM

It's been over two months since a Wayne County Superior Court Judge began deliberating the city's annexation case, but he still hasn't made a decision.

And the sign on the side of Salem Church Road that keeps annexation opponents informed about the process still says: "Waiting for Judge Crow's decision."

The ruling the residents are awaiting is whether the city's decision to annex land on the east and west sides of Salem Church Road, and the north and south sides of Buck Swamp Road, will stand.

Legal briefs from the lawyers on both sides of the case were submitted on Oct. 20 to Judge Kenneth Crow, but the briefs have not yet been placed in the case file at the courthouse.

Crow is still deliberating on the matter.

The residents of the area, say the Goldsboro City Council didn't follow proper annexation procedures, and they oppose the annexation that they say will raise their property taxes but give them few services in return.

The city says it followed the law and the annexation is needed for the city to grow.

Crow is considering sending the annexation back to the council. That could require a new annexation report, two public hearings and a new vote on the matter.

The city doesn't believe Crow has the legal authority to make that decision, while the lawyer for the annexation opponents believes that he does.

Now the judge must decide whether enough detailed information was provided in the city's annexation report to allow the council or the citizens to make an informed decision regarding the annexation.

During the trial, the city stipulated that the residents in the annexed area would have to pay more for water, as outlined in the city's annexation report.

Former City Attorney Harrell Everett, who is representing the city in the case, suggested that the court send that one issue back to the City Council to address.

Everett said the city had followed the legal requirements and had committed to provide the same services to the annexed area as were in the city.

"One exception is the water rates, and we ask the court to remand that one issue to the council," Everett said.

Everett said the only issue he saw before the court was whether a written agreement for the water service and the fire hydrants was necessary. He didn't believe the city had to have that degree of specificity in its report.

Crow asked the opposing attorney, Jim Eldridge what would be gained by voiding the annexation, because the city could start the annexation process again.