Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Senate Obstacles

This article interview of Sen. Rand clearly shows the attitude of the Senate leadership toward reforming the annexation laws. The Senate refused to cooperate with the House in 2007 on studying the annexation laws, and Rand's statements show that the Senate leadership has no real intention of turning it's ear from the City Lobbyists to the citizens of the State of NC.

Combine this with the recent interview of the House Leader Rep Hackney where he defers to the NCLM on the issue of froced annexation, http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200880509096 and you can see that the citizens are going to have to rally an even larger show of force in speaking to these Legislators.

Fayetteville Online

Published on Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bill would put annexations on pause

By John FuquayStaff writer

RALEIGH — An annexation bill expected to be filed in the legislature’s short session could delay an expected showdown between Fayetteville and the upscale Gates Four community. If approved, the bill would place a one-year ban on involuntary annexations, giving lawmakers time in the January 2009 session to consider changing the law.

Fayetteville annexed 42,000 residents of western Cumberland County in 2005. Gates Four was excluded by a court-approved three-year delay. The delay is about to expire. The average tax value of a Gates Four home is $225,000. If the annexation goes through, homeowners would pay an average of $1,300 more in property taxes.

Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand questions whether the annexation bill even qualifies for consideration.
Short-term sessions — held in even-numbered years — are mostly for midterm adjustments to the biennial budget. Bills recommended by a study committee also can be considered, but Rand said the annexation bill was not recommended by a joint study committee of House members and senators. “I don’t know how it complies,” said Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat and chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. “It’s a House committee, so it wouldn’t meet our rules.” As Rules Committee chairman, Rand plays a powerful role in assigning bills to committees. He also believes cities should have the right to annex territory but said he would listen to opposing views.

As it stands, Fayetteville could begin the legal work of annexing Gates Four on July 1 and make the annexation effective no sooner than July 1, 2009. Those terms were reached in a 2004 settlement that stemmed from Fayetteville’s last attempt to annex the community’s 1,400 residents.

Rep. Bruce Goforth, a Buncombe County Democrat and chairman of the committee recommending the one-year ban, said the bill could be heard by the Senate if it passes in the House. “There is a lot of energy in the Senate on this,” he said. “It’s something that needs to be done.” The bill would halt forced annexations through June 30, 2009. Voluntary annexations could continue, Goforth said.

Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne said the City Council hasn’t reached a consensus on the issue, but he expects the city staff will recommend annexing Gates Four sometime next month. At a council meeting earlier this year, three of the council’s 10 members opposed annexing Gates Four.

Cities annex property to manage growth. A state law prevented Fayetteville from annexing land for many years, and growth around the city occurred without zoning laws or paving standards.

Annexation opponents say residents often wait years to receive municipal services, such as utility connections, but they must pay city property taxes immediately. Other residents, such as those in Gates Four, say they already have utilities, trash collection, police and fire protection, and would gain no services despite paying higher property taxes.

While Fayetteville has yet to declare its intentions, Gates Four is bracing for another fight. “We’re assuming they’re going to start the process,” said Mike Molin, a Gates Four Homeowners Association board member. “If they start the process, you’ve got to find something to sue them over. That’s probably what we’ll do.” Molin said residents would prefer annexation by nearby Hope Mills.

Hope Mills Mayor Eddie Dees said the town has no jurisdiction over Gates Four, and annexation by Hope Mills would require legislative approval.

RELATEDShort money means a short legislative session
Staff writer John Fuquay can be reached at fuquayj@fayobserver.com or (919) 828-7641.

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