05/11/05 — Annexation opponents join lobbying effort today

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Annexation opponents join lobbying effort today

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 11, 2005 1:52 PM

A dozen annexation opponents donned red shirts this morning before heading to Raleigh as part of a state-wide anti-annexation lobbying effort.

"Red stands for stop annexation," said Lisa Cantrell, a member of the Wayne County group opposing annexation by the city of Goldsboro.

County commissioners Andy Anderson and Efton Sager spoke briefly with the group, which gathered at the Salem Methodist Church at 7 a.m.

Sager said that he wasn't there to talk about local annexation decisions, but he did think the state annexation laws should be changed.

"Forty-five other states get along without forced annexation," Sager said. "I certainly think North Carolina can too."

The Wayne County group will meet up with citizens from Fayetteville, Cary, Winston-Salem and Edenton to protest forced annexation.

They chose today to go to Raleigh because it's "Town Hall" day at the Legislature. The state League of Municipalities sponsors the lobbying effort.

Municipal officials from across the state are expected to attend as well.

There are several bills pending in the General Assembly that propose changing North Carolina's involuntary annexation laws. Under current state law, cities and towns must meet a set of criteria to annex an area, but the citizens in the areas to be annexed don't have a vote in the matter.

Bill Burnette, a leader of the group opposing Goldsboro's intention to annex an area along Salem Church and Buck Swamp roads, said the League of Municipalities is trying to keep state annexation laws unchanged.

Anderson said he would like to see the annexation laws changed, and said he is especially concerned about protecting areas where the county has zoning in place.

As an example, he said, an area zoned for airport use by the county could be changed if the city annexed the area.

"I'd like to see the laws state that it couldn't be reduced to a lesser zone after annexation," Anderson said.

He said he also believes annexation laws should be better defined.

"It should advance in a logical area," Anderson said.

Anderson said that if the group wants to be successful in changing annexation laws, they would have to get, and keep, the attention of their legislators.

"That's the biggest problem," he said. "The legislators have the power to take the bill, put in a desk and forget about it. You need to force them to vote."