06/15/05 — Kenansville annexation vote delayed until July 11

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Kenansville annexation vote delayed until July 11

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 15, 2005 1:45 PM

KENANSVILLE -- The Kenansville Town Board has postponed a vote on the proposed annexation of Duplin Commons until July 11.

Duplin County officials are hoping the town will annex the events center but some town officials oppose the proposal.

Kenansville Mayor Betty Long is against the annexation.

"We don't want it to be a liability to the town government, and we are afraid it will be," Mrs. Long said. The town's police department consists only of a chief and three officers, she pointed out. That will not be enough to take care of security when 15,000 people converge on the events center, she said.

"I've had so many phone calls from people telling me about their concerns," Mrs. Long said, noting the responsibility the town would have for utilities and maintenance.

Town Commissioner Steve Williamson is also a member of the steering committee and advisory board for Duplin Commons. He said problems with annexation exist but that they can be solved.

"There are some things we need to work through, but I think they can be worked out," Williamson said.

Ms. Long said Kenansville would not benefit should the area be annexed and beer and wine sales permitted. A part of the tax revenue from beer and wine sales goes to the town, she said, but the amount the town receives is based on population, not on sales, she pointed out.

Lynn Davis, who is helping organize the first event to be held at Duplin Commons, the Muscadine Harvest Festival in late September, said there are other ways to get approval for beer and wine sales at the festival.

"We could get a license for each event," Ms. Davis said. "People do that all the time, but we hope to have a lot of events out there, and annexation would be a lot easier."

If construction of the event center is not finished in time for the festival, organizers plan to move it into the agriculture office complex.

She said organizers of the events know there will be more security needs. But that will mean more jobs, she said.

"We will need more people doing food, tents, ushers," Ms. Davis said. "People will want to return, and we will have increased tourism. New businesses will be coming to Kenansville, and they will pay taxes to the town."