Local annexation foes head back to Raleigh

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
They called it “The No Tweaks Rally.”
Two busloads of people from Rowan County ó about 70 in all ó joined a sea of other people wearing red Wednesday at the fifth annual Rally for Reform aimed at changing the state’s involuntary annexation laws.
While the N.C. League of Municipalities supports “tweaking” the state’s 50-year-old law on forced annexation, Good Neighbors of Rowan County President Mark Davis said Wednesday that “tweaking is not an option.”
If people in a targeted annexation area don’t get the right to vote it up or down, or county commissioners aren’t given oversight over the annexation process, any other changes in the law are no good, Davis said.
Members of Good Neighbors of Rowan County, which grew out of Salisbury’s unsuccessful attempt last year to annex the N.C. 150 residential corridor, have routinely traveled to Raleigh to speak and sit in on any legislative meetings related to involuntary annexation.
Davis said upwards of 30 different bills related to annexation are now floating around the House and Senate.
But annexation opponents have put their support behind Senate Bill 494, introduced by Sen. Larry Shaw, D-Cumberland; and House Bill 645, introduced by Reps. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake; Larry Brown, R-Davidson; Bruce Goforth, D-Buncombe; and Fred Steen, R-Rowan.
The annexation foes say these are the only bills that would fix problems with the 1959 annexation law and go beyond League of Municipalities-supported tweaking.
Davis estimated the turnout for the anti-annexation rally at several hundred “from all over the state.”
“It was a pretty good turnout,” he said.
Rally participants gathered at 10 a.m. in Halifax Mall between the Legislative Office Building and the Legislative Building.
Several legislators spoke to the group, including Shaw and state Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, whose district includes Rowan County.
Davis said a group of Rowan Countians visited a meeting of the Public Utilities Committee, which was hearing a bill related to municipal broadband and where Salisbury city officials were attending.
The annexation foes also made a point to visit the Senate offices of President Pro Tem Marc Basnight of Dare County and Majority Leader Tony Rand of Fayetteville and urge them to allow some of the annexation bills, including Senate Bill 494, to escape from committee and reach the floor for votes.
Davis said he thinks people showing up for the rallies helps the cause for significant changes in the annexation law.
“I think it shows we’re here, and we’re sticking around,” Davis said.