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Salisbury seeks annexation supporters Letter to Rowan municipalities urges opposition to moratorium

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
The city of Salisbury took the initiative Friday to find allies for its proposed annexation along N.C. 150.
Supported by the N.C. League of Municipalities, Salisbury officials fashioned a letter asking other Rowan County towns to support their annexation and oppose any effort at a moratorium on involuntary annexations.
The four-page letter was addressed to mayors, managers, administrators and clerks in those towns and came from Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz and N.C. League of Municipalities Director S. Ellis Hankins.
It included both the city of Salisbury’s seal and the logo of N.C. League of Municipalities.
The city also attached a resolution for the towns to consider. If they approved the resolution, the towns would go on record as opposing a moratorium and supporting lawful annexation proceedings.
The city initiative comes just a day after the Rowan County Board of Commissioners decided to hire the Asheville law firm of Adams Hendon Carson Crow & Saenger to fight the annexation of 1,699 people and 2,075 acres.
The annexation includes a portion of the county-owned airport.
Commissioners also are asking other Rowan municipalities to support their call for a moratorium on involuntary annexation.
At a previous meeting, Rowan County’s legislative delegation indicated that it would introduce a local bill asking for a moratorium.
Meanwhile, residents from seven different subdivisions along N.C. 150 met Thursday night and decided to form a committee to collect contributions toward a legal challenge, set up a Web site and create a telephone calling bank.
They also settled on a name for their group: the Good Neighbors of Rowan County, which residents called themselves nine years ago in a similar anti-annexation fight that was successful.
City Manager David Treme responded Friday to a couple of comments made by commissioners. “It’s apparent the city will have to defend itself against any suit that Rowan County will bring against the city on behalf of residents located in the identified annexation area,” Treme said Friday.
“However, contrary to Commissioner (Jim) Sides’ comments in today’s Salisbury Post, if quoted correctly, the city of Salisbury has not allocated $200,000 to defend this suit.”
Treme said Sides’ comment “has no basis in truth.”
He added that a resolution “on the other side of the annexation issue” contained a factual error. The “N.C. Legislature” did not appoint the current study committee on annexation, Treme said, and it will not be reporting to the “full legislature,” as the resolution says.
Treme noted that the Speaker of the House appointed the House Select Committee on Municipal Annexation, while the Senate declined to take part.
Any recommendations will go only to the House, Treme said.
“This is quite different than the language contained in the county resolution,” Treme said.
The city resolution sent out Friday to the other municipalities is titled “In Support of Sound, Fair and Uniform Municipal Annexation Statutes,” that Salisbury says it is following and should supported by other towns.
“I don’t think there would be many municipal elected officials who would not support the annexation,” Treme said, “and I don’t think there would be many who would vote for a moratorium against annexation.”
Kluttz is a member of the N.C. League of Municipalities Board, which has strongly defended the 1959 state annexation law through the years.
“We write specifically to request your support for your fellow municipal elected officials in Salisbury during this difficult time,” the letter from Kluttz and Hankins says.
“As you know, opponents of the current city-initiated annexation proceeding have become very vocal. We want to share our viewpoint and information about how and why the city has undertaken this annexation proceeding and our thoughts about the statewide implications of this municipal annexation issue.”
The letter goes on to detail how the League and cities have fought to protect the current annexation law and why it’s an important tool for orderly growth.
“Healthy municipal centers are essential to the economic viability of the state,” the League says in its membership’s Core Municipal Principles. “Municipalities must maintain the ability to expand and provide the higher level of services demanded by the citizens.”
The statutory policy in North Carolina directs that as areas become urban in character, they should become part of a municipality and receive urban level services.
City officials say the statutes set out stringent criteria for qualifying areas to be annexed, provisions for the public to be heard and informed, followed by timetables and deadlines to provide all major services.
State law also provides extensive remedies in court and elsewhere if property owners in a proposed annexation area believe their area does not qualify or that the city has not followed all the necessary procedures, the city leaders say.
They add that wise and fair use of the annexation statutes has kept cities and towns in North Carolina strong.
“Salisbury believes that it is pursuing the annexation … in a responsible manner and in complete compliance with the N.C. general statutes,” the city letter said. It added that the neighborhoods along N.C. 150 are near development capacity, “and residents have enjoyed the proximity to Salisbury with no shared economic responsibilities for many years.”
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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