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Annexation foes take to the streets

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
It had the feel of a good old-fashioned tea party ó the Boston Tea Party.
Residents from the N.C. 150 area gathered on Salisbury’s Square for the noon lunch hour Thursday carrying signs, passing out papers and brochures, wearing T-shirts and waving the American flag as they demonstrated against the city’s proposed involuntary annexation of their homes.
Many of the protesters ó the city’s permit allowed 10 at a time ó said the city’s annexation attempt simply translates to taxation without representation, a rally call that led to the founding of the country.
Larry Wright, one of the organizers of the protest, said the city’s plan to annex his and his neighbors’ homes without allowing him to vote is un-American.
Wright, a Neel Estates resident, and Louis Smith, who lives in Westmont, said they vote to elect the president, congressmen, state legislators and county commissioners, but the city is following laws and preparing to tax them without residents ever being able to vote for city representation.
“Taxation without representation is coming,” Smith said.
Wright said annexation opponents plan to demonstrate from noon to 1 p.m. again Saturday and during all the Saturdays in April.
Salisbury’s proposed annexation would take in eight different subdivisions along N.C. 150 and other areas, including a portion of the Rowan County Airport.
The annexation includes an estimated 1,699 people, 948 parcels of land and 2,075 acres.
Salisbury’s annexation report says the area has 732 single-family detached residences, 21 mobile homes, three duplexes and four non-residential uses.
“Salisbury citizens need to know, too, that their taxes will go up,” said Tim Krotchko, who lives in Neel Estates.
This initial demonstration came on the eve of the city’s information meeting on annexation Thursday night at the Civic Center.
Plans also are in the works for several busloads of annexation opponents to travel to Raleigh April 9 for a meeting of a House Select Committee on annexation.
The N.C. 150 residents have organized into a group called Good Neighbors of Rowan County. They are attempting to raise $100,000 toward a legal challenge of annexation and have hired the same law firm as the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
Commissioners also plan to fight the city’s annexation.
“If you live within 50 miles of this city, it’s coming,” Smith told a passerby. He held a sign that said, “Let Us Vote.”
Other signs proclaimed, “No Forced Annexation,” “Forced Annexation is Un-American,” “Honk If You Agree” and “City Council, Leave Us Alone.”
One flier read, “Attention: All Salisbury Citizens. If the proposed annexation along Highway 150 takes place, your taxes will go up!”
Protesters also handed out a brochure titled, “North Carolina’s Law Is Unfair to All North Carolina Citizens.” It was produced by the Fair Annexation Coalition, based in West End.
“This affects my family,” said Steve Porter, who was protesting Thursday with his wife, JoAnne.
American government was designed by the people for the people, not by the government and for the government.
City officials “say it’s not personal, but it is personal,” Porter added.
He said families such as his will be forced to tighten their budgets and eliminate things such as family vacations to pay the city taxes that would come with annexation.
“It’s not fair for government to say, ‘We will do this, like it or not,'” Porter said.
The protesters stayed mostly at the Square Thursday, walking from corner to corner.
Trudy Parry, a Glen Heather resident, said she and her husband recently moved to Rowan from upstate New York, partly because of New York’s high tax burden.
She can’t afford city taxes on top of county taxes, Parry added.
Wright said the state’s 1959 involuntary annexation law is a bad one. The state had other laws that were bad, such as those legalizing segregation, Wright said.
If a man forces himself on a woman, it’s rape, Wright said. If a city forces itself on its neighbors, it’s annexation, he said.
“We’re very angry and very upset over this,” Wright added.
This was the first protest Wright has ever been involved with. On the back of his homemade T-shirt, it said, “Forced Annexation Is Wrong, Un-American, Unethical.”
Wright’s wife, Regina, kept driving through the Square over the lunch hour Thursday blaring her car’s horn in support of the protesters.
Wright said she had a 1 p.m. hair appointment and a 4 p.m. meeting with Mayor Susan Kluttz.
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Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-426 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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