Union County Pulse: August 5

Hunter Oaks supports Marvin annexation

I want to make a couple of corrections to the article, “Property owners will decide on Marvin Annexation,” which ran July 22 in the Union County Weekly.

During the interview with Patricia Bradshaw, she mentions a mailing to Hunter Oaks residents. Marvin did not mail this to the Hunter Oaks Community. The homeowners association of Hunter Oaks did.

This was not a fear factor letter to scare the homeowners, but a factual mailing.
There is an agreement between Charlotte and Marvin, Weddington, Waxhaw and Wesley Chapel that states Charlotte will not come over into Union County and annex any property until after 2014.

As of right now, the towns have requested Charlotte amend the agreement and push the date back several years. Charlotte has said no and is not interested in even speaking about the agreement until six months before the date in 2014.

Thanks to the very unusual annexation laws of North Carolina, cities and towns can annex any property over county lines as long as the property sits next to the town. This has been done about 30 times since the 1950s. See the “North Carolina General Statutes § 160A-48 Character of area to be annexed” for details on annexation in North Carolina.

There was a new change in the annexation laws this past year, with the passing of House Bill 845, that makes limitations on involuntary annexations, putting several new steps into the process and giving homeowners being annexed a voice in the process for the first time.

Here are a couple of highlights of the bill:
• A plan must be in place to provide the following services, within the timeframes stated, on substantially the same basis and in the same manner as each service is provided within the rest of the municipal limits:
-At the time of annexation: Police, fire, solid waste collection and street maintenance
-Within 3.5 years of annexation: Water and sewer
• Resolution of Consideration – Must be adopted at least one year, but not more than two years, prior to the resolution of intent. Property owners must be mailed a copy of the resolution.
• Resolution of Intent – Adopted at least one year after the resolution of consideration, describing the area to be annexed, that complies with the criteria of area to be annexed.
• Public Informational Meeting – Held at least 45 days, but not more than 55 days, after the adoption of the Resolution of Intent. An official from the municipality is to explain the annexation process and answer questions of property owners and residents of the area to be annexed and of the municipality.
• Public Hearing – To be held at least 130 days, but not more than 150 days, after the public informational meeting, to accept comment from the property owners and residents of the area to be annexed and of the municipality. Prior to the public hearing, property owners must be given an opportunity to opt into the water and sewer service at no cost.
• Annexation Ordinance – May be adopted at least 10 days, but not more than 90 days, after the public hearing. Must set an effective date of June 30, either of that year or the following year.
• Petition to Deny Annexation – If the County Tax Assessor certifies that at least 60 percent of the property owners have signed petitions to deny the annexation, then the annexation is terminated and the municipality cannot begin the involuntary annexation process on that area again for 24 months.

What H845 did not include was mention of limiting annexations over county lines.
While a great try to amend the annexation laws, it also opens up several areas of interpretation that could end up in courts for years.

Also, as involuntary annexation has been a tool widely used by towns and cities as a means of growing their revenue, I really can see this being amended in the coming years. For every legislator that said this was a needed amendment, there is one that has said on record that this will damage the state.

What Patricia Bradshaw and her group are doing is for only their neighborhoods of the Deny Annexation. None of these neighborhoods are in direct annexation threat like Hunter Oaks, Somerset and Longview.

If they want to look at it this way, what we are doing with our annexation request will further protect their neighborhoods from any threat from Charlotte.

What the letter out to the homeowners said was factual information. If our neighborhood was to be annexed by Charlotte, we would have to pay Charlotte taxes (64 percent more) in addition to Union County taxes.

If we were to be annexed by Charlotte, they would need to provide services to our communities. As of right now, Charlotte already supplies sewage services to some of our neighborhoods. It is not that much of a step for them to add water, fire and police.

What we are doing is for the protection of our community. I want to live in Union County.

We are not forcing or scaring any homeowner to sign up for the annexation. Our goal is to be open and honest with the facts and let each one make a determination.

I wish Patricia Bradshaw well with her efforts. I would like, though, to have her not involve our community.

Neil Gimon
Hunter Oaks 

Notes from the Capital – August 2011

The North Carolina General Assembly is in recess to reconvene again in mid-September. Since the opening of this session of the legislature we have had 96 legislative days and I can’t even begin to count the hours of debate, committee meetings and discussions in the hallways, on the phone and via email.

This year there were 936 bills filed in the N.C. House and 785 bills filed in the N.C. Senate for a total of 1,721 bills; and 441 of those bills, about 25 percent, became law. Gov. Perdue vetoed 15 bills, seven that originated in the House and eight in the Senate. The legislature was able to override six and failed to override two. One bill that extended unemployment benefits for an additional 20 weeks was enacted by the governor in spite of her own veto of the legislative bill.

In the most recent action of the House, we enacted regulatory reform by overriding the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 781 in order to balance job creation and environmental protection. We passed employment security reform and created the Division of Employment Security within the Department of Commerce, giving the legislature and the employees a seat at the table to insure accountability. We passed enabling legislation for Medicaid and health choice to establish federally mandated requirements for participation in the new health-care program should it become federal law. We enacted medical liability reform to bring restraint and common sense to medical liability judgments in order to hold down insurance costs and reduce abuse by trial lawyers. And we enacted a Woman’s Right To Know in order to insure that women are presented more complete information, allowed 24-hours for consideration and are able to give informed consent before undergoing an abortion.

Every one of these bills was enacted not withstanding the veto of the governor.

Unfortunately we did not override the governor’s veto of the “Restore Confidence In Government” bill, better known as “Photo ID To Vote.” In spite of reported 70 percent support for this bill across North Carolina, the House failed to override along straight party lines. It was amusing to hear a reception at the Governor’s Mansion held the very same day as this vote required a photo ID to attend.

This session also saw the election maps of North Carolina redrawn. For the first time ever, a Republican majority drew the maps. The redistricting committee of the legislature held numerous hearings across the state to ensure the broadest input in our state’s history in developing the new districts for Congress, and the state House and Senate. Citizens across the state could follow the unfolding of this process online. It was amusing to hear members of the minority party decry the new districts by acknowledging they had, when in the majority, run roughshod over the minority party in drawing the lines 10 years ago. I can’t remember hearing “two wrongs don’t make a right” so many times from so many people. Population growth and shifting demographics made major changes inevitable. I commend the committee for yeoman work in their fair approach to this difficult task.

We still have much work ahead. We have energy bills still requiring action and, without action by the legislature, another gasoline tax increase will be implemented. I support a cap on the gas tax. North Carolina already has one of the highest gas taxes in the nation. We must, however, recognize that by stopping yet another increase in the gasoline tax, we will have to find even more cuts in next year’s budget, possibly as much as $300 million more.

Our state’s economy has again stalled. Unemployment is again inching upward. If your neighbor lost his job, it’s a recession; if you lost your job, it’s a depression! We must continue to focus our efforts on restoring a sound economic foundation for North Carolina. Many tough decisions lay ahead. Please stay in contact with me, share your views and participate in your government. Call my Raleigh office with your views and concerns at 919-733-2406 or email us at Craig.Horn@ncleg.net. Please don’t let us be in Raleigh unsupervised, keep us on a short leash and, most of all, don’t let us make decisions with our heads in a sack.

Rep. Craig Horn
District 68
Weddington

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