04/26/05 — Judge's ruling is setback for annexation

View Archive

Judge's ruling is setback for annexation

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on April 26, 2005 1:51 PM

Any resident of Goldsboro has the right to express his or her opinion of the proposed annexation of an area north of the current city limits, according to a judge's ruling on the issue.

Superior Court Judge Ken Crow's judgment in the annexation case was officially entered into Wayne County court records Monday.

Heretofore, the Goldsboro City Council has permitted people living in an area proposed for annexation to speak at a public hearing on the proposal. Crow said that anyone living in any part of the city has the right to speak at such hearings.

The judge also ruled that if the City Council proceeds with its attempt to annex an area along Salem Church and Buck Swamp roads, it must amend its original annexation report, hold another public hearing and hold another vote on the issue.

Crow's decision was made in January, but he told lawyers for the city and for a group opposing the annexation to agree on the language in the order. They reached an agreement last week and Crow signed the document.

The City Council approved the annexation of the area a year ago but residents living there filed a lawsuit against the city, saying that city officials had not strictly followed state procedures regarding annexation in trying to bring them into the city limits.

Crow's ruling is a setback for the city, which now must revise the wording of its annexation report and give public notice of another hearing and possible vote.

Last year's vote for annexation was 5-2.

Residents of the area considered for annexation said in their lawsuit that water service in the annexed area was provided by local sanitary districts at a higher rate than what city residents paid to Goldsboro for their water. During the trial in October, former City Attorney Harrell Everett agreed that the cost of adjusting the water rates should have been included in the report.

Everett said that the city would change that portion of the report, but he said he believed another hearing and vote was unnecessary. After reaching his decision to order another annexation report, Crow ordered lawyers for both sides to agree on the order's wording. The document went back and forth between the two sides for several months before an agreement could be reached.

According to the ruling, the city has to pay any discrepancy in cost for water services in the area, so that citizens in that area will be charged the same as Goldsboro residents.

The City Council city can vote on whether to annex the area immediately following the public hearing, or it can decide to hold another public hearing.