04/27/11 — Annexation pushed to back burner

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Annexation pushed to back burner

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on April 27, 2011 1:46 PM

The budget battles being fought in Raleigh have pushed deliberation on a number of other bills to the backburner, including House Bill 196 which, if approved, would de-annex the Fallingbrook and Buck Swamp areas, known as Phase 11, from the city limits.

The bill is sponsored by two representatives who represent Wayne County, Rep. Efton Sager and Rep. Stephen LaRoque. It was filed Feb. 28 and received a favorable recommendation from the Committee on Government March 24 before being referred to the Committee on Finance.

Phase 11 residents made the trip to Raleigh for the public comment period March 24 when Bob Pleasants and Interim City Manager Tasha Logan spoke on the bill. Pleasants spoke for the bill's adoption while Ms. Logan presented a City Council resolution against the bill.

But the bill has been sitting in the finance committee since that day thanks to the state's focus on approving a budget and Rep. Sager said he doubts the bill will be discussed in the next two weeks.

"It won't be heard this week or next week," he said. "We've been tied up by nothing but budget this and next week."

He said the House will likely finish with appropriations this week and have a budget proposal online for public input before voting on it next week. He said he hoped that the bill would be discussed during the week of May 9.

If adopted, the de-annexation bill would affect Goldsboro residents everywhere, not just the outgoing residents in Phase 11. Because of redistricting this year due to the city's census numbers, the removal of Phase 11 would mean the Planning Department would need to draft a new maps to divide the city's population evenly and hold a public hearing to discuss the new district lines.

The delay would add to an assessment by the Department of Justice mandated by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that could last up to 60 days. The requirement is placed on states with histories of discriminatory voting practices. The combined delays would likely mean there would be no city elections this fall.