12/14/11 — Cities withdraw motions; petitions arriving

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Cities withdraw motions; petitions arriving

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on December 14, 2011 1:46 PM

Updated 1/3/12

More than 67 percent of petitions mailed out to property owners in the Phase 11 area concerning the area's possible deannexation have been returned, according to the Wayne County Board of Elections.

As of Dec. 13, 331 of the 493 petitions mailed out have been turned in, with 22 of those sent out returned as undeliverable. Those 22 not delivered were sent again, with 13 returned as undeliverable.

The petitions, which were mailed out Nov. 16, ask property owners to indicate whether they wish for their area -- along Buck Swamp and Salem Church roads -- to remain within the city limits of Goldsboro.

The petitions come as the result of recent state legislation reforming the manner by which municipalities can annex areas into their city limits. Goldsboro's Phase 11, which was annexed in 2008, is the sole example of an area being removed from city limits through the petition process.

The city, fearing a loss of investment, population and tax base, challenged the petition process through writing to the Department of Justice, asserting that the exclusion of those who didn't own property in the area from the petition process was unfair.

Along with other municipalities and individuals, the city brought a lawsuit against the state, claiming the law was unconstitutional.

The lawsuit lists the state, the state board of elections and each city's respective county board of elections as defendants, including the Wayne County Board of Elections, but a motion to withdraw was issued by Kinston, Lexington and Wilmington since their calls for an injunction were left moot as the petitions in those counties had already been counted.

More defendants were close to joining the fray until this week, as Bob Pleasants, president of Good Neighbors United, a Phase 11 group, and five other entities filed a motion to intervene as defendants Friday. That motion was going to spawn a court date Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the Wake County Courthouse, but that motion was pulled as well.

Michelle Bailey, Wake County Superior Court's trial court coordinator, said Tuesday that there were no further motions scheduled for the lawsuit at this time, and that nothing would be heard this week.