Group vows to continue fight against annexation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
While obviously pleased with Salisbury’s decision to drop the N.C. 150 annexation, county commissioners and members of Good Neighbors of Rowan County will continue working against forced annexation.
Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, was not surprised by the city’s decision.
“The city of Salisbury was pursuing a very aggressive annexation of a large portion of the N.C. 150 corridor. The city of Salisbury is no longer pursuing an aggressive annexation of a large portion of the N.C. 150 corridor,” Chamberlain said. “End of story.”
The Salisbury City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to drop the annexation plan, saying that it’s not economically feasible. The decision came after a barrage of opposition from residents and from the Board of Commissioners.
While it may be the end of the proposed N.C. 150 annexation, another commissioner has concerns about the the city’s future plans to reach out and touch its neighbors in the county.
“The city recognized that it (the annexation) was the wrong thing, the wrong time and the wrong way to do it,” Commissioner Jim Sides said.
Sides and Chamberlain said the board will pursue local legislation enacting a moratorium on involuntary annexation. The moratorium would be in place until the General Assembly has time to act on recommendations from a special committee considering revising state annexation laws.
“The moratorium is a necessity … The problem is not the N.C. 150 annexation, it’s the attitude of the city of Salisbury. They’ve done seven area annexations. They have more in mind,” Sides said. “They’re not stopped. We haven’t won the war.”
He credited the outcry from residents for stopping the city’s effort.
Sides said he plans to to go Raleigh on Friday to speak to the N.C. Association of County Commissioners and ask for its support on changing annexation laws.
Good Neighbors of Rowan County, the group formed primarily from N.C. 150 neighborhoods included in the proposed annexation, will hold a community meeting April 24 at 7 p.m. at Locke Fire Department.”We appreciate that the city has reached the decision. Obviously it’s a relief for all in the impacted area,” said Jeff Matthews, co-treasurer for the group.
Matthews said the steering committee met Tuesday evening after the city’s decision to drop the annexation. The committee agreed to move forward and work to change the N.C. General Statutes dealing with annexation.
“As long as the general statutes on municipal annexation are unchanged, the threat is always there,” he said.
Matthews said the group is connecting with other groups across the state to seek changes in annexation laws.
And Matthews said Good Neighbors will likely change a little bit to take in more people from a wider area of the county to create a lasting foundation to deal with annexation, land use and possibly other issues.
“We are also willing to work with the county commissioners and the municipalities to somehow come to some better solutions on how to manage growth,” Matthews said.
One of the goals is to support state, county and municipal candidates who support the goals of the organization.
“We’re still fundraising to support our activities,” Matthews said.
While the county and Good Neighbors will continue to push for a change in annexation laws, the county has stoped work on a planned legal challenge to the N.C. 150 annexation.
In February, commissioners hired the Asheville law firm of Adams Hendon Carson Crow and Saenger to challenge the annexation in court.
As of Wednesday, the county hadn’t received the first bill from the firm.
County Attorney Jay Dees, serving as co-counsel, did most of the preparatory work, with the total cost under $1,000.
The county expects to have a cost figure available later this week.
Commissioners were scheduled to decide Monday night whether to drop funding and withdraw from the Centralina Council of Governments, the agency which prepared the annexation study for Salisbury. The item has been pulled from the board’s agenda.
Commissioners have asked for thorough review of services the county’s gets from Centralina. The board has previously discussed dropping funding for the multi-county agency.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or