12/13/05 — Motion for dismissal of city annexation suit continued

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Motion for dismissal of city annexation suit continued

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on December 13, 2005 1:47 PM

A motion for dismissal of a lawsuit opposing Goldsboro's plans to annex an area north of the city limits has been continued until January.

At a hearing Monday in Wayne County Superior Court, City Attorney Tim Finan filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Good Neighbors United, which represents residents living along portions of Salem Church and Buck Swamp roads.

Judge Ridley Rand did not rule on the motion but gave the opponents of annexation until Jan. 23 to prepare a response to the motion.

If Rand dismisses the case, then the city will be able to go ahead with its plans to annex the area although annexation opponents could appeal the ruling on the motion to the state Court of Appeals.

If Rand rules against the motion, the case would likely go to trial in the spring.

A previous attempt by the city to annex the area ended in a court battle that sent city planners back to the drawing board. A judge ruled the city had not properly prepared its annexation plan.

Jim Eldridge, the lawyer for Good Neighbors, said the city's motion to dismiss the case was premature. City officials were given an extension to answer opponent's request for evidence prior to Monday's hearing, he said. The extension was granted until Dec. 16, so the annexation opponents could still request additional information.

In 2004, the city passed an annexation ordinance that would involuntarily annex the neighborhoods around Salem Church and Buck Swamp roads. Residents opposing annexation formed Good Neighbors United and filed a lawsuit in Wayne Superior Court. A judge ruled in favor of the city, but the group appealed.

The Goldsboro City Council prepared a second annexation plan this year and approved it in July. Following the council's action, the residents filed another petition, seeking to halt their plan again.