Salisbury drops controversial annexation plan
By Mark Wineka
Salisbury City Council voted Tuesday to call off its annexation attempt of the N.C. 150 area.
The decision came mostly for financial reasons.
“This is not a good business deal for the city of Salisbury,” City Manager David Treme said before the council’s unanimous vote, which caught opponents by surprise.
Residents from the eight subdivisions along N.C. 150 and elsewhere had purposely flooded City Hall with 659 individual requests for water-sewer service by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
It was a strategy discussed weeks ago by opponents, who formed the Good Neighbors of Rowan County group to fight the annexation.
This past weekend, neighborhood leaders went door to door in the annexation area to have people fill out the water-sewer requests forms and collect them for delivery.
The annexation area had some 948 parcels, of which 732 were single-family homes. So the percentage of people filling out the forms was strong.
Running water and sewer to individual properties in the entire annexation area ó essentially what all the submitted forms taken collectively were asking ó would have cost the city $30 million to $34 million.
But city officials realized they were hamstrung by their own current policies.
Salisbury does not require mandatory hookup to water and sewer services, even if the lines run by a person’s property.
The submitted forms were a “survey” and did not obligate property owners requesting the utilities to take them.
Salisbury would have been running service lines throughout the whole annexation area with no guarantee that it would have any customers ó definitely not enough to pay for the huge utility expansion.
Treme said it it was “just not economically feasible,” especially with the policy in place that does not require mandatory hookup. Also, Salisbury could not change its policy in the middle of the annexation process.
Larry Wright, a vocal opponent to he annexation, said he tore up the remarks he was set to deliver at the council’s public comment period Tuesday.
He said he was one of the people who thought the annexation was “a done deal up front” and also one of the people who thought the council wasn’t listening as 91 different people spoke to them at last week’s public hearing.
“I thank you for listening and the vote you gave today,” Wright told the council members.
Read more in Wednesday’s edition of the Salisbury Post.