City: Subcommittee guidelines should prevent airport de-annexation bill
SALISBURY — Salisbury officials say guidelines given to an N.C. House finance subcommittee this week give the city momentum in the effort to defeat a bill that would remove the Rowan County Airport from city limits.
Salisbury City Manager Doug Paris said the guidelines — which include criteria for members to apply when deciding annexation and de-annexation legislation — is a “clear cut” win for opponents of Rep. Carl Ford’s airport bill.
“We think it’s an excellent development for the City of Salisbury because the airport de-annexation bill does not meet those guidelines,” Paris said. “Those guidelines preclude passage of that bill.”
But supporters say the guidelines were made for residential disputes — not airports.
“Ours is government entity on government entity,” Ford said in a phone interview Wednesday. “That’s what sets it apart.”
Ford said subcommittee members are likely to apply a different set of criteria when dealing with the airport de-annexation bill.
“The point is that what I’m hearing from second and third parties is that this is different and they — and most of the towns — aren’t as concerned with this,” Ford said. “It’s because it’s just different.”
Rowan County Commission Vice Chairman Craig Pierce said the guidelines fit many of the other annexation and de-annexation bills, but he doesn’t see the same situation in the county’s case.
“I don’t think that the guidelines that were presented were really designed for this particular application for the airport,” Pierce said. “I think the airport is a unique situation for them.”
Chairman Jim Sides, who has been a staunch advocate of airport de-annexation, did not respond to repeated requests for comment this week.
Pierce added the guidelines do present some promise for city supporters.
“If I was the city I would take this as a ray of hope,” he said, noting that he still sees lawmakers leaning the county’s way. “I think they’ll be able to see that this is not going to fit the pattern.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.