Union County Pulse: September 2

Hunter Oaks wants to be part of Marvin

To the editor,

First off, thank you for printing Jonathan Wells (Charlotte Annexation Director) letter. In it, he states that Charlotte will work with Marvin, Stallings, and Weddington to further extend the Annexation Agreement past 2014. I also want to thank Mr. Wells for straightening out a number of questions.

But I also have to think that between now and 2014, there might be an election that may change the department, or that a new law could be submitted. We really cannot say what the future hold with Charlotte.

Yes, possible annexation by Charlotte was one of the reasons why the Government Affairs Committee of Hunter Oaks began to look at either incorporation or voluntary annexation, as a means to protect Hunter Oaks from being annexed into Charlotte.

But, that was not the only reason.

I also have to take Jack Brienza to task. We have spoken with him many times, and yet he still does not truly understand the facts that are on the table.

As I have stated before, Hunter Oaks was the ones to reach out to Marvin, not Marvin to us. We did so as part of the due diligence in putting together the incorporation steps and not because the Involuntary Annexation effort was destined to be defeated by the courts. We are not Plan B, we are just Hunter Oaks.

And besides, if we are counting tax revenue of the Involuntary Annexation Donut Hole area, Hunter Oaks would not be able to match that at all. So, how could Hunter Oaks truly be a replacement for funding? Currently the Village of Marvin has over $1,000,000 in reserves. There really is no need for Hunter Oaks tax dollars.

Jack also brings up the idea that Marvin has $.09 tax rate. Again, Jack, look at the facts. Marvin only has a $.05 rate of taxes. The rest of the fees that Marvin states on their budget comes from State Law that every incorporated city, town, village is eligible for. Those are fees that every citizen in North Carolina pays, but only incorporated towns can get access to. When we looked at the possibility of incorporating Hunter Oaks, we listed those same fees that we would be able to use to fund our town.

Jack Brienza also keeps referring to the 2008 Marvin Council retreat, and some of the comments made by the council on tape. Yes, things were said about Hunter Oaks, but that was almost 4 years ago! That council is no longer in power at Marvin. There is a new council, and one that is open to the idea of Hunter Oaks voluntary annexation.

Jack, have you talked with the Council, to find out what are on their long range plans? If you did, you would find out that they would like to get a second park, one that can have baseball, soccer, and other sports facilities. WCWAA is very interested in working with towns in Western Union County to have more athletic fields.

One of the other main reasons why Hunter Oaks should pursue voluntary annexation is to gives us local representation. As it stands right now, we do not have any representation being an unincorporated area. All of the decisions, regarding zoning, enforcement, even roads are determined by the Union County Board of Commissioners. They do not understand or probably even care about our area. Always a good example was the Wal-Mart debacle, where the county allowed a special permit for Wal-Mart to build a super center in our backyards.

The current Kohl’s building was another example that was pushed thru Monroe. Yes, both the developer and Kohl’s has worked with Hunter Oaks and Somerset on a very basic level, should a store of that size actually be built there?

All the County Council saw was the tax dollars, regardless of what it could do to the homeowners here.

Yet another reason why to work with a petition for voluntary annexation would be to get additional police presence in our area. Yes, Marvin currently has an officer stationed there, during the daylight hours. With the addition of Hunter Oaks, we would be able to get at least one other deputy assigned to the Marvin area. And with the unfortunate shooting that occurred near Carver Pond in Hunter Oaks, additional police protection is something that we could all use.

A question was brought up at one of our meetings with Hunter Oaks homeowners, about the ability for Marvin to supersede any of the HOA rules and statutes that we already use. We have spoken to Marvin’s Council, and they will grandfather Hunter Oaks, letting us continue with our regulations, and not be bound by the zoning rules and statutes that Marvin has.

The Hunter Oaks HOA and the Government Affairs Council have been nothing but honest with the homeowners of Hunter Oaks. We continue to answer every and all questions posed to us, with honest and truthful information. Any home owner can contact any member of the HOA or the Government Affairs Community at any time.

We are not forcing any homeowner to submit a letter of request for Annexation. Jack, if you are not happy about this, you do not have to fill a petition out.

Neil Gimon
Government Affairs Committee
Hunter Oaks

The benefits of a municipal fire district for Weddington

On August 23 the County Fire Commission appointed a mediator to reopen the possibility of a merger between the Providence Fire Department and the Wesley Chapel Fire Department. Good idea? Maybe… maybe not. No matter which side of the fence you sit on this issue, perhaps there is another, more intriguing option for Weddington. The town should consider becoming a municipal fire district.

Union County has not addressed the issue of adjusting fire district boundaries in over 27 years. On August 23 the Fire Commission had an opportunity to finally do their job to correct one of many existing fire service issues, expanding the Providence VFD fire district. But they chose to delay the process until after the November elections. When the County does not do its job to address a vital service issue affecting thousands of Weddington residents, it is time for the town to explore local controls so its citizens can have equal 24/7 staffed fire and EMT service.

Under the umbrella of a municipal fire district the town of Weddington will still be serviced by all three fire departments. The Providence Fire Department would be the primary department for the town. Wesley Chapel Fire Department and Stallings Fire Department would cover areas based on criteria of response time and public safety. Any changes to fire boundaries would be reviewed by the state Dept. of Insurance to make sure each fire department is handling areas they can serve better than one of the others. So if your neighborhood or home happens to change from one department to another, you are currently not being served by the most effective first responder … be grateful for the switch.

Providence Fire Department currently provides 24/7 staffed service. This is not a big deal for fire calls because two stations are always called to respond to fires. It is a big deal for medical emergencies that so many of our citizens are not receiving. Wesley Chapel uses a pager system from 5 p.m. – 7 a.m.. If a medical call comes in, there may be no one at the WC station ready to jump in an emergency vehicle and head towards you. As a municipal fire district the entire town will have the benefit of 24/7 fire and EMT (medical) coverage.

Staffing 24/7 provides ideal response opportunity and the ability to know the emergency personnel are the proper blend of responders. There are different levels of qualified responders, based on training and experience. Knowing that the right people are coming to your emergency and as quickly as possible should be a standard for the entire town.

Currently residents in the Wesley Chapel fire district pay a fire tax (2.2 cents per $100 of assessed property value). Providence and Stallings fire districts pay a fire fee of $100 per household. In addition, the town of Weddington has been subsidizing the Providence Fire Department. This budget year that amount is 236K. Based on approximately 4300 parcels, this is an additional $55 per household we are paying towards fire service. This is unfair to everyone. As a municipal fire district everyone will be paying the same tax rate and receive a superior level of service.

Our town will continue to grow. As a municipal fire district the town will have the ability and flexibility to evolve vital services as needs require. It will allow the citizens of Weddington a louder voice to state concerns or offer praise regarding emergency issues. Excellence in providing emergency vital service is the hallmark of excellence in local governance. This is an exciting opportunity for Weddington to begin to act as a town and begin to manage its own issues. An opportunity I hope we are ready to accept.

Judy Johnston

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