Area eliminated from proposed annexation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 16, 2006

AHOSKIE – One area under consideration for annexation by the Town of Ahoskie now stands eliminated from the study.

On Tuesday, William Best of the Division of Community Assistance, a branch of the NC Department of Commerce, updated the Ahoskie Town Council in regards to possible areas of annexation.

Four areas were under the original Resolution of Consideration, a measure passed by Council members at their Sept. 13, 2005 meeting. Of the four, Area D, which lies west of the Ahoskie Creek along NC 42, failed to meet the Urban Standards Test. An analysis of that property, one including the residential area located behind the NC State Highway Patrol barracks and DOT office, deemed it unacceptable because a number of parcels were greater than three acres in size.

Meanwhile, the other three areas (A, B and C), according to Best, do meet the required criteria as set forth by NC General Statutes. They include: Area A, the general area of Hertford County High School, including Colonial Acres; Area B, parcels north and east of Ahoskie’s existing town limits on the Ahoskie-Cofield Road (SR 1409), including Lincoln Road, VIP Road and Waldon Street as well as a portion of Willoughby Road; and Area C, residences and lots along a short stretch of NC 561 east of the current town limits.

The number of lots in these three acceptable areas total 326 of which the highest concentrations are in Area B (146) and Area A (122).

While the study continues, Council members expressed concern over whether or not the areas of annexation would adversely affect Ahoskie’s current system of electing town officials. Ahoskie uses a Ward system where two Council members are chosen from each while the fifth member as well as the Mayor are elected at-large.

Best said maps and demographic information will be forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval.

“They will want to ensure that your proposed areas of annexation will not be considered as gerrymandering a voting district,” Best said.

Another huge step in this early stage of annexation is wastewater capacity. Currently, the Town of Ahoskie is under a consent order from the state to operate an aging wastewater facility while town officials continue to map out plans for a complete upgrade to its sewer system. One of those hurdles was crossed on Tuesday where Council gave the green light to borrow $1.7 million to use for repairs that will hopefully stop an estimated 375,000 gallons per day entering the system through infiltration and inflow.

While the Resolution of Consideration will run its two-year course, Best said the next step would be to perform an analysis of the costs the town would incur to provide municipal services to the three proposed areas. That study, which may be concluded by the end of the year, will specifically address police protection, fire protection, solid waste services and street maintenance. The financial impact of the Ahoskie Rural Fire Department losing its Fire District Tax in those proposed areas will also be included in the study.

If the studies and analysis go forth as proposed followed by the required public hearings, it may not be until 2009 before the annexation process is fully completed.