Annexation Showdown

Is anyone watching (or attending) the Carrboro Board of Aldermen's public hearing tonight? They are expected to have a large number of people speaking about the proposed annexation of their northern transition area.

Please post reports on the meeting or your own comments here.

Issues: 

Total votes: 288

Comments

Dan, thanks for stating more clearly the problems with this legislation. I think your suggestions make a lot of sense and wonder what the annexees think of it...

The tenor of the new legislation--giving individuals who are being 'taken' a voice--is good IMHO but the details are shaky. I wouldn't really support the 5 years lead time either since there are areas that request annexation. I would support at minimum legislation that ensures residents have at least 1 year notice (from point of decision to actual annexation), and that equivalent services are in place and operational at the time of annexation.

A lot of the debate around annexation seemed to focus on a sense of betrayal- the idea that people who bought a home didn't know this was coming, when in fact it had been on the books for a long time.

How many realtors are selling the "city living, county taxes" package and not telling people they are in a neighborhood likely to be annexed?

My guess is that leaving annexation info aside unless a buyer inquires is standard procedure.

Perhaps a better approach is to set up a system where new residents who move in get a call/letter at home asking whether or not they received annexation plan information verbally, and more importantly, in writing.

If the homeowner did not receive that information, the Realtor is fined, say, $1500. (Though with home sales, maybe this price isn't high enough?)

Put this program into practice with an appropriate fine, and you will quickly see all realtors get up-to-speed on annexation in the County, and everybody will buy property with full knowledge of what is or isn't coming, and with a certain degree of comprehension, when change would come.

Ideally, we would want to protect upstanding realtors, so there ought to be a way to verify from the realtor side that information had been shared prior to purchase. (Forms filed with the County and Towns, perhaps?)

Patrick, I think you've got a great idea to start from there. Making sure that full disclosure occurs in a home sale is a good thing. I don't know exactly how to structure that, but starting with the point of purchase makes sense. You're right, I see a lot of "city schools, county taxes" on current "house for sale" ads. If not being in the city limits is really important to someone (for whatever reason, taxes are not necessarily the only issue here), then it makes sense that the buyer should know if the neighborhood has already been designated for annexation.

It is a good idea and one that Mark Chilton put forward the night of Carrboro's annexation vote (and the full board endorsed). As I recall, Mark also proposed putting some teeth into the request for realtors to be more forthcoming with info about annexation possibilities, but I don't remember the details.

My understanding of the intent of the legislation is to disallow the knid of stunt that Carrboro pulled in this annexation. The statute allows for the annexation to take affect any time after July 1, 2005. Yet the board of alderman very cleverly adopted a resolution that makes the annexation effective a scant 50 or so days after the next town election, thereby taxing the annexed areas for two full years with no representation whatsoever. It was a really smarmy thing to do, and shouldn't be legal.

We were thrilled when Rep Faison showed us the advance copy of the bill. Even if it doesn't pass, it's progress. The state legislature will finally be talking about annexation laws, which need to be addressed.The current statutes are entirely too vague, and allow ridiculous things to happen in respect to school districts, voting precincts etc.

I hope the next step is the dissolution of the NCLM. It doesn't seem right that tax dollars should be able to used to lobby against the well being the citizens that paid them.

Faison's bill sounds like an interesting step toward a compromise. And I appreciate him bringing a possible compromise to the table, although I wish that it had been at least circulated to the Board of Aldermen.

Still, compromise can be a very good thing and this annexation issue would have been a good place for a compromise. I don't know that Faison's bill is the right compromise, but it is worth talking about.

According to advice that the Board of Aldemen got from the Town Attorney, the effective date of an annexation decision must be 365-400 days from the time of the passing of the final annexation resolution (which was adopted on a 5-2 vote on January 25, 2005). So unless the Town Attorney was wrong about that (and that seems unlikely) then the effective date of the annexation had to be between January 26, 2006 and March 1, 2006 - or something like that.

Some have tried to suggest that the Board engineered the timing of the annexation decision to ensure that these dates would work out in this way, but that is little more than a conspiracy theory. No Aldermen ever discussed such an intention with me and believe me I would be the first to point out such a shallow plan if there were one. Maybe this timing occurred to someone in advance of it being raised by the residents, but I never heard about it.

Also, note that legal challenges to the annexation are likely to change the effective date of the annexation until the lawsuit is settled. This could be years in the future. So it seems unlikely that annexation areas A&B will really be annexed as of January 2006 and therefore the Town will not be "taxing the annexed areas for two full years with no representation" - and in fact it is impossible to say when the annexation will actually take effect, let alone how long before or after a municipal election that will be.

Apparently, based on my conversation with the Town Attorney, there are two circumstances under which an involuntary annexation can occur:

Pursuant to a Resolution of Intent - ie following a public declaration that the town affirmatively intends to annex the area in question (such as the Town of Carrboro passed in September or so), or

Pursuant to a Resolution of Consideration - ie where the town much earlier declared that it was considering annexing the area.

Under a Resolution of Consideration, you can annex involuntarily much faster from the time of passing the annexation ordinance to the effective date of the ordinance. This must have been the rubric within which the Town of Chapel Hill was working.

North Carolina state law lays out a lengthier process to use when the annexation is pursuant to a Resolution of Intent. This was the process the Town of Carrboro followed. The period required is 12-13 months from final adoption to effective date of annexation.

Mark C., I'm baffled by your statement that there must be a 365- to 400-day delay between the passsage of the final resolution and the effective date of annexation. I've covered lots of these proceedings initiated by the town of Chapel Hill and seen or heard of no such requirement.

For example, consider the timeline for the annexation of Southern Village in 2001:

1/22/01, Adoption of Service Report
2/26/01, Public Information Meeting
3/19/01, Public Hearing
4/9/01, Passage of Annexation Resolution
6/30/01, Effective Date of Annexation (the resolution specified annexation wold occur at 11:59 p.m.; this was so the Southern Village would be in the town limits from the start of fiscal 2001-02).

In other words, it all got done in six months. All this timeline data is from the council minutes for the 3/19 and 4/9 meetings, which are available from www.townofchapelhill.org.

Is there a memo from Carrboro's attorney that backs up your comment?

Precisely the point Mark. The council opted to take the path which would allow for maximum financial gain and minimal political fallout for the council members.
A much more appropriate course would have been to pass the resolution of consideration, submit the plan to the northern transistion area advisory board for discussion ( which was NEVER done) and then proceed with the annexation. I'm sorry but I just don't believe that NOBODY considered the timing. It's especially egregious since Mayor Nelson said one of his main goals in voting for annexation was to enfranchise the residents of the area to give them a voice...does the duplicitousness never end ?
Carrboro is the poster child for bad annexation policy statewide and the reason these bills are being propsed to the general assembly in the first place.

But you were, in fact, considering the annexation at a much earlier date. It was as early as the winter staff retreat last year. If you'd come back, passed the resolution of intent submitted it to the planning board and then proceeded, a good deal of the ill will could have been avoided.The time table would be virtually the sam since a resolution of consideration allows for the annexation to take place as soon as 40 days after the annexation ordinance is passed. Sorry Mark but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
and BTW you mentioned the bad timing in voting against the resolution. What were you referring to?

The option of pursuing an annexation pursuant to a Resolution of Consideration takes much longer in that the idea is that the Resolution of Consideration would have to have been passed at some much earlier date.

You wrote " . . . I just don't believe that NOBODY considered the timing." The first I heard of this point was when it was raised by Jeff Vanke. I called the Town Attorney the same afternoon to see about changing the proposed effective date and learned of the above problem. That was before the November 16th, 2004 hearing. So the first mention of the issue that I am aware of was in early November 2004.

I know that doesn't make for great copy, Ray. Sorry.

So Katrina are you saying to wanted them to hurry up and annex sooner? It seemed to me the annexees wanted the Town to wait and discuss it as long as possible.

Ruby, my point is that the board had been " considering" the annexation long enough to pass the resolution of consideration last spring, had all of last year and until this spring to get input from citizen boards etc. and then vote for the annexation ordinace to be effective this summer....you'd still have the entire year of debate and consideration and the annexees would be able to vote in November instead of two years later.

BTW...kudos on your speech this evening.

Mark,
I for one, will be glad when bills have died and lawsuits are lost.
Do you really think lawsuits will stall the annexation timeline? Have you figured out what illegal acts Carrboro committed? Will you be running for Mayor?

The beauty of Mark or Alex or Joal running for Mayor (and winning) is that it sets up an appointment on the board. Would the appointment be made late enough to allow a former NTA resident consideration?

I guess there are a lot of ways that it could have happened. I do think that it was not handled well and that it would have been better if we had implemented the annexation after building the Northern Fire Station (ie in about two years). That's why I voted against it.

But, I think you are overestimating the level of concern that the members of the Board of Aldermen had about so-called 'electoral consequences' of this decision. Indeed, three members of the Board will be retiring this fall (or so it appears) and three others will not be up for possible re-election until fall 2007. If those who voted for this annexation were in fact motivated by possible electoral consequences (regardless of when) then why would they vote for the annexation at all?

I just don't think the Annexation-Timing theory holds up when closely scrutinized.

Well, Mark, four years is a long time in politics, as your own carreer illustrates. The reason to vote for annexation is simple- TAX DOLLARS!!
In four years, a lot of residents will have moved out of the area ( Chapel Hill/Carrboro has one of the highest transiency rates in the country), a lot of area B residents will be forced out of their homes by the looming 19 to 39 thousand dollar OWASA hook up fee.
And I would bet most the Carrboro board don't have two more terms planned, but that extra half a million dollars a year between now and then sure does help, doesn't it ?
If you're a politician, wouldn't it be ill-advised not to consider the political ramifications of annexation ? Maybe I'm too cynical, but it all smells funny to my democratic nose.

First, I would like to extend an apology to the Orange Co. residents who were using the Forum at StopNCAnnexation and lost that avenue of communication when our web server folded on us without notice.

Secondly, I just want to let all here know that we have taken more direct control of the new website and have a hopefully better version up and running now.
There are SEVEN Bills now introduced in this legislative session to change annexation laws in NC. Two of these Bills (one in the House, one in the Senate) are designed to change the laws Statewide and give those who are targets of involuntary annexation the opportunity to call for a referendum on the matter.
I think that if these municipalities approach these potential future citizens with the possibility of annexation KNOWING that these same citizens could call a vote on it, they would do a better job of “selling” the idea.
Please check the Latest News on www.stopncannexation.com for how these Bills are progressing and for information on annexation and what you can do to help get these Bills passed.
Thank you, and once again our apologies for the untimely website problems.
www.stopncannexation.com

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