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Annexation moves forward

AHOSKIE – Plans to annex four areas contiguous to Ahoskie’s current town limits will proceed, despite the possibility of a statewide moratorium on municipal annexation.

At Monday’s meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council, the town’s governing body unanimously approved a resolution of intent to move forward with the annexation process.

Monday’s gathering was a continuation of a June 10 council meeting that was recessed until June 30. The annexation discussion is also an “old business” item as council has pondered this issue since last year, one that involves incorporating the areas of

Colonial Acres, North Catherine Creek Road (north of Malibu Drive), NC 561 East (Harrellsville Highway) and NC 42 West into the town limits.

At their April meeting, the council was informed about the possible statewide moratorium on municipal annexation. A legislative sub-committee recommended that the state should temporarily ban municipalities from involuntarily annexing areas so lawmakers can consider changes sought by some residents. If approved, the moratorium would last from July 30, 2008 until April 30, 2009.

“That proposal is scheduled to go before the full (State) House (of Representatives) this week,” Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond told council members at Monday’s meeting. “The measure must still pass the full House and (State) Senate before it becomes law. I suggest that we continue to move forward as planned.”

Using the services of the NC Department of Commerce/Division of Community Assistance, an analysis of the four proposed annexation areas have met all statutory standards. Additional analysis, as required by law, revealed that the revenues generated through the annexation are sufficient enough for the town to provide services to those areas.

By approving the resolution of intent, the town council, at Monday’s meeting, also established the following deadlines concerning annexation:

* Notify all property owners, using first-class mail, by July 18.

* Set a public information meeting for 10 a.m. on Aug. 19 at which time all residents and property owners in the proposed areas of annexation will have the process and services explained to them and will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

* Advertise and conduct a public hearing at 10 a.m. on Sept. 9.

* Adopt an annexation ordinance on Oct. 14.

* Set Dec. 12 as the effective date of annexation.

While Ahoskie moves forward with its plans, involuntary annexation opponents say the state’s laws are outdated and that oftentimes the desire to annex is purely monetary and that residents in annexed areas pay higher taxes and receive little or no added benefits.

In regards to that opposition, the Ahoskie Town Council, at its April meeting, approved a resolution in support of sound, fair and uniform municipal annexation statutes. That resolution states that municipalities are authorized to annex areas adjacent to the current town limits using strict, specified circumstances and standards.

A more detailed description of Ahoskie’s annexation plans is as follows:

Study Area #1: Colonial Acres, all residential property, consisting of 118 lots/tracts encompassing 135.65 acres.

Study Area #2: North Catherine Creek Road; basically an area along the Ahoskie-Cofield Road and the Willoughby Road containing 146 lots/tracts covering 61.9 acres.

Study Area #3: NC 561 East (Harrellsville Highway); a total of 53 lots/tracts covering 115.32 acres.

Study Area #4: NC 42 West; 15 lots/tracts totaling 17.6 acres. The entire area that will possibly be annexed along NC 42 covers 23.03 acres. Hammond said the majority of the parcels/tracts are commercial property, located beyond the Ahoskie Creek about halfway to the Johnny Mitchell Road intersection. He added there were roughly seven-to-eight parcels on the right side of the road and a few on the left.