03/15/06 — City's testimony continues in annexation trial

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City's testimony continues in annexation trial

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on March 15, 2006 2:00 PM

Regardless of whether the city annexes the neighborhoods along Salem Church and Buck Swamp roads, Goldsboro officials said Tuesday that a main sewer line will be placed in the area.

A group of residents of the area are challenging the city's plan to annex them. The case is being heard in Wayne County Superior Court.

City Engineer Terry Gallimore testified that 29 of the more than 370 residences in the proposed annexation area have requested city sewer services. The residents had two opportunities to request sewer services upon receiving notices prior to the City Council's public hearings on the annexation issue.

Lawyer Jim Eldridge, who represents Good Neighbors United, the group suing the city, said it is obvious the majority of residents in the area proposed for annexation do not want to be annexed or have city sewer services, because the majority declined the offer of city sewer.

The residents have been fighting the proposed annexation for nearly two years. The first time the city and Good Neighbors United went to court, a judge ordered the city to rewrite its annexation ordinance. It did so, the City Council approved a second annexation ordinance, and the group sued again.

If the annexation is approved, each home in the newly annexed area would be eligible to get sewer service. That would cost the city about $7 million.

In May 1998, voters approved a bond to extend sewer services to the proposed annexation area, City Finance Director Richard Durham said. Money for the sewer line extension has been placed in the city's budget for the past two years and, Durham said, the city has enough money through reserves and revenues to cover the cost.

Two people from the city's engineering department, along with a professional surveyor, also took the stand on Tuesday to discuss developing the meets and bounds requirements for the proposed annexation and the city's method for determining the land mass and boundaries.

The engineering department was asked by the city's planning department to conduct a meets and bounds description of the proposed annexation area, Engineering Technician Stanley Smith said. The work was done by using a combination of maps and the Geographic Information System, or GIS.

The Wayne County Tax Office supplies the city with a geographic information system twice a year, which includes all county land, its distances and boundaries.

"We went along the borders and the streets to get the distances. If the distances weren't given on the plat, we'd get the descriptions from the GIS and we'd put it in the description," Smith said.

In many instances, Smith said, he could not get an exact calculation of the distance from one point to the other. That is when he used the GIS technology. The technology is also the reason why many of the distances on the final draft are approximate, he said.

Although Smith said a field survey is more accurate than using plats and the GIS, a meets and bounds description is required on many documents such as the annexation report, the public hearing notice and the city's final report.

To ensure the city's calculations were correct, the engineering department hired a professional surveyor to draft an independent meets and bounds description based on the boundaries of Phase 11, Gallimore said.

Surveyor Dan Butler's field survey came up with figures similar to the city's, he said. For example, the amount of land slated for annexation was figured at 474.86 acres by city staff. Butler's figure was 474.27 acres.

Goldsboro General Services Director Joe Sawyer said newly annexed residents would save money on refuge collection. Within the city limits, the charge for collection is $15 per household. Outside the city limits, the cost is $18 per household.

The city would also implement stop signs, street markers and speed signs, Sawyer said. Any streets that are not on the state maintenance system would become city roads if the annexation was allowed, Sawyer said. The city would be responsible for repairing potholes, maintaining drainage and any other street problems. More fire hydrants and street lights also would be installed. Goldsboro Fire Chief Bobby Greenfield said fire hydrants in the area would increase from 19 to 47. About 110 new street lights would be erected. Greenfield said the city would contract for fire protection for the annexed area through the Belfast Volunteer Fire Department, but that city firefighters would assist.

Many of the homes in the area to be annexed now get water from the Fork Township Sanitary District. Eddie Coltrain, manager of Wayne Water Districts, said the remaining 49 of 372 homes in the area rely on Wayne Water Districts for water services. If the neighborhoods were annexed, Coltrain said those residences would continue to get service from the Belfast-Patetown Sanitary District.

The city would pay for any price differential between the water districts and city rates. Durham said that according to the Planning Department's calculations, which were verified by the finance department, that more than $5,000 would be paid to the Belfast-Patetown Sanitary District for compensation and more than $52,000 would be paid to the Fork Township Sanitary District.

Residents in the area would receive a composite bill that included a credit. Then, Durham said, the city would pay the districts each month to cover the costs, which would be budgeted for.

The trial was to continue today in Courtroom 4 at the Wayne County Courthouse.