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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The petitions are in, and the people have spoken but the fight over annexation is far from over. The city of Wilmington and four other cities across the state have filed a lawsuit against the State of North Carolina, the North Carolina Board of Elections, and multiple county’s Board of Elections.

In the lawsuit, the cities claim the law regulating petitioning for annexation is unconstitutional.

“And then the thing they made you do was have an election where only certain land owners were allowed to vote,” said Wilmington city councilman Kevin O’Grady. “So, people who rent, they don’t get to vote. People who don’t live in the area, they don’t get to vote. People affected by the vote, the city of Wilmington residents, they don’t get to vote. That’s un-American and that’s basically what we’re challenging. It’s an unconstitutional election.”

Representative Carolyn Justice says the lawsuit is a waste of time.
“It will be a monumental waste of taxpayer’s money and probably embarrassing for the cities when they’re finished,” said Justice.

Justice says the cities are scrabbling to figure out how to annex even though residents, like those in Monkey Junction and near Southport, have shown in the returned petitions they do not want it.

“Forced annexation ignores the voice of the people,” said Justice. “Just the very action, ignores the voice of people. And now, 75 percent in Monkey Junction, and I think a greater number than that in Southport, have spoken. And now, they’re ignoring that voice. But worse than that, they’re wasting the money, tax money paid by the people who already live in the city of Wilmington on this legal action.”

O’Grady says he thinks the state is the one who is wasting citizen’s time and money.

“I thought it was a waste of taxpayer money to pass a statute that was so obviously unconstitutional,” said O’Grady.

O’Grady says the cities will ask a judge in Wake County Thursday to temporarily stop the Board of Elections from verifying petitions that were due back Tuesday.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest238

    You are right in that stuff you post is ludicrous. I got your groupie.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    I really enjoy you posting anything, regardless of how ludicrous, whenever I post. I never had a groupie before.

  • Guest99x

    Ray, have you thought about auditioning for work at one of the comedy clubs? Except for the historic preservation district and a few far too short runs of business blocks what does “downtown” really have to offer? Crime??

  • Guest31415

    If someone unfamiliar with the area asks where I live, I name a nearby larger city- not because I am pretending to live there. Your comment about the television and radio stations is absurd. Yes, living one block, two, five, or ten outside city limits means exactly that. There must be a line somewhere.

    Not everyone who lives outside of Wilmington is doing so with the intent of sticking-it-to-the-city.

  • Guest238

    How you be in all those places “working” when you are on this board 15 hours a day.
    Your employer(even if it’s yourself) is being totally ripped off.
    Is this the great work ethic that you like to espouse on a daily basis?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    Many people live in Castle Hayne and work in Castle Hayne. Many people live in Murrayville and work across the river on 421. I live in the county and spend most of my workdays in Columbus, Bladen, or Sampson County.

    Wilmington is NOT the center of the universe.

    BTW, all your nonsense about “we watch Wilmington TV stations” is exactly that – nonsense. If I watch the Cubs on WGN should I be annexed by Chicago?

  • mark haines

    They aren’t listed on the headlines, but a bunch of smaller towns signed their name to the lawsuit so they can push through some annexations that were stopped. Chiefly among those “secret” names is Marvin in Union county, which has the highest median income of any town in north carolina- over 150k per household. The best part is that Marvin provides absolutely no services. No police, fire, sewer, waste removal, water, NOTHING. They don’t even have a town hall, they just rent a room at the local church for meetings where they decide how to divvy up 900,000 dollars of annual tax revenue. They are trying to annex 1400 households to get another 1.5 million dollars in revenue. And they spend all that money on nothing except their own salaries. It’s legal highway robbery and it is time all of this ENDED.

  • Your fault

    If you voted saffo you caused it so you can’t complain!

  • Ray Briggs

    Everyone posting here is correct. We should all resist growth and change as much as possible. Never in our wildest dreams did we envision having to pay city taxes when we bought property a few blocks from the city limits. Let all those fatcats inside the city deal with city taxes and such. We were the ones with the fool-proof plan of moving into a very spefic area in which we could be “mostly-residents.” (We spend most of our time in the city; working, shopping, eating out. We have Wilmington on our addresses, we go to Hammerhead games, we shop at Independence mall, we get upset at Market St. & College Rd. traffic, we listen to Wilmington radio stations & watch Wilmington tv; even ask anyone back in PA/NY/NJ where we live – they will all say Wilmington, NC.
    But WE know the truth – that we only mostly live in Wilmington.
    You see, we are actually a few blocks outside of the city limits so we don’t pay city property taxes – brilliant, isn’t it?

  • Ed

    The people on the city council should have to pay (personally and not with tax payer money) for the cost of this frivolous lawsuit. I am really sick of these so called leaders wasting the money of the taxpayers. The law is to prevent forced annexation and they should obey it.

  • Guest7969

    But being FORCED into the city against your will IS constitutional?? Seems there’s this little thing called taxation without representation I read somewhere…

  • Guest1234

    So its unconstitutional if only property owners being annexed are able prevent involuntary annexation but completley constitutional for no one being annexed to prevent forced annexation?

    that is asinine logical councilman

  • keep my land

    Why should people who rent get a vote? It’s not their property? Do they get a vote when there are rezoning? I don’t think so. Why should people who don’t live in the area get a vote? If they don’t live in the area it doesn’t concern them. How are the citizens of Wilmington affected by the vote? Right now they aren’t giving up anything if it is annexed they will. They will give up services because of expansion. Bringing in more property doesn’t do anything but expand trouble and the power the city thinks it has. What is unconstitutional is that the City thinks they have the right to bulldoze their way and take rights away. The bottom line is the city needs to find innovative ways to operate. It needs to live within a budget using the revenue it creates and not try to steal from others.

  • Guest99x

    There is one way that I could imagine improving on the law preventing involuntary annexation which would be a provision to allow folks in the neighborhoods the ability to secede, a process of de-annexation!

    The MJ area has grown phenomenally over the past ten years. That growth was caused by investment; investment by large corporations and small business owners. These investors are the creators of value in the area, not the politicians.

    Lowes Home Improvement, WalMart, Lowes Food Market, Home Depot and Staples are a few of the “majors” that can be named. Has it been considered by the City of Wilmington what the effect on area employment would be if property taxes on these businesses were to suddenly double??


    If you don’t think that a commercial landlord isn’t going to pass a tax increase to its tenants and exact more $$$ from already struggling small businesses, you politicians are more stupid than I thought…


    Way too many politicians have their grubby hands too deep in our pockets. Civic leaders should be focusing on the creation of opportunity, NOT the seizing of financial outcome.

    More than one writer in this forum has called the Occupy folks “Marxists” and that they need to go home. I want to expand on this thought a little…. let’s get the “Marxists” out of City Hall too.

  • Guest2020

    Forced annexation is taxation without representation and that is what is unconstitutional. The Wilmington City Council needs to get rid of its greedy and incompetent ways and do what is best for the city. They can’t handle what they have now. How do they expect to take on more?

    And while we are speaking of the council, when are the people of Wilmington going to take back their city and vote these idiots out?

  • guest111

    Exactly where are the attorney fees coming from? Are the citizens of Wilmington footing this bill?

  • The League of Municipalities…funded solely by taxpayer dollars…yours and mine. So in essence…we taxpayers are funding a lawsuit to sue ourselves.

  • ChefnSurf

    What nerve! Elected officials in Wilmington won’t (not can’t) keep even their own expenses within the amounts mandated to them and now these same *$##&@^ want to put a political gun to someone elses head for more money. Stealing is stealing.
    Hey Wilmington, get your own house in order instead of yet once again trying to find an easier way out of the mess YOU created for yourself. You should be ashamed.

  • guesty

    From the infinite wisdom of Kevin O’Grady: “So, people who rent, they don’t get to vote.”
    People that rent don’t pay property tax, only property owners pay property tax. It really is just that simple.
    The city doesn’t offer anything that county property owners already have. Choice of trash service, sheriff department, county fire and lower taxes.

    If you want to talk about unconstitutional actions, lets talk about taxation without representation. The people that own property there were finally able to have a vote and responded with a resounding NO. Get it through that hat holder you keep between your shoulders.

  • Guest99x

    Councilman O’Grady, get over it and get over yourself. You LOST this decision, now go home. First, Mr. Politician, get this straight, YOU have failed in your presentation. You have failed to convince the taxpayers that annexation brings anything to the table but an almost doubling of real estate taxes.

    You have failed to articulate any benefits along with failing to transparently state what these “benefits” would cost. Heck, I don’t recall seeing what these benefits even are except for some nebulous idea that the City of Wilmington is some kind of economic magnet and we lumpen proletariat should be delighted to pay you for your vision and wisdom (NOT)…

    Councilman, I am enjoying some fresh brewed coffee right now. I wish I could have you wake up to its aroma :)

    First, a petition is not an election. Had you conveyed some benefit to the affected taxpayers in Monkey Junction, I feel safe to project that you may have actually prevailed in this endeavor. You, at risk of repeating myself, have not convincingly shown any benefit to the affected taxpayers in exchange for being involuntarily annexed.

    Filing a lawsuit to block the certification of these petition signatures makes you look arrogant and cheap. You aren’t making a constitutional argument. You have been rebuffed in your attempt to seize taxpayers’ financial assets against their will.

    Didn’t you (and the other council members) take an oath which in part says you support the US and State Constitutions? You are really mocking the Constitution by using it to defend your Marxist attempt at the taking of property.

  • greenie

    I am amazed that there is not a rash of lawsuits from the northeastern borders of the city (Landfall/etc..) that were recently annexed to overturn their annexation.

    City of Wilmington, you wasted $700,000 plotting your hostile takeover of the county, untold amounts of the county’s money forcing this petition by the County Board of Elections, and now you want to get into a legal battle to salvage your land grab. If I were a city resident, I would be royally ticked off. That money could have been used to lower city taxes.

    The annexation argument is absolutely insane. A city should have the right to extend it’s borders as far as it wants without permission of landowners? If the borders keep extending, the 3 mile annexable border extends also. The plan was to annex the entire county.

    The people have spoken: keep your high taxes, corruption, and crime INSIDE the city. Work with the tax base you have, and provide the services you promised to the people you have already annexed (roads, streetlights, sidewalks, water/sewer, etc.)

  • True American

    Let’s take a look at Mr. O’Grady’s quote…

    “And then the thing they made you do was have an election where only certain land owners were allowed to vote,” said Wilmington city councilman Kevin O’Grady. “So, people who rent, they don’t get to vote. People who don’t live in the area, they don’t get to vote. People affected by the vote, the city of Wilmington residents, they don’t get to vote. That’s un-American and that’s basically what we’re challenging. It’s an unconstitutional election.”

    First, there was no election…simply petitioning the Board of Elections…

    Second, renters, people that don’t live in the area and City of Wilmington residents are not affected by forced annexation, so it does not matter whether they get a vote…

    Third, and most importantly, what IS un-American, is to think that a City Council, made up of people that COUNTY residents had no say in them being elected, get to vote on taking over property outside the city limits.

    Mr. O’Grady and you other politicians and supporters of this ridiculous lawsuit, you double-talk so much and lie to your constituients so much, and make decisions on your own personal agendas and special interests so much that when the people actually raise their voices to be heard, you are afraid, hire lawyers and sue.

    SHUT UP and take care of the CURRENT City of Wilmington residents…I am certain they would appreciate it very much!!!!

  • Citizen of the Republic

    This is absolutely correct.
    Here it is in a nutshell.

    The City of Wilmington HAS TO EXPAND in order to keep current residents taxes and services at a reasonable level. It can take years for annexed areas to get these “valuable services”.


    Annexation is a PONZI SCHEME. You have to keep finding more people to subsidize the CITY’S current services. Otherwise City residents will have to pay ever more in taxes and fees, which would be political suicide for the current City Leaders.

    It’s a money grab, plain and simple.

    As for giving City residents opportunity to vote for annexation of the proposed areas, the City residents will overwhelmingly vote for annexation. It’s the only way to keep taxes and service fees down.

    Thank God we have some politicians that have thrown a monkey wrench in the City’s annexation plans.

    Their going to court was a foregone conclusion. They know that county residents outside of the City limits need to be annexed in order for
    them to keep pet projects, screwy land deals, and programs that are basically a giveaway for some of the low income City residents.

    The only problem is that in order to vote these bums out of office, you have to be a city resident. If the city wants real input, open up City Council elections to all county residents.

    If the city needs more revenue, get it from CURRENT residents. That won’t take long for some real changes to take place. Maybe that’s what they are afraid of.


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