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New method to stop forced annexation blocked

READ MORE: New method to stop forced annexation blocked
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The fight over forced annexation in North Carolina continues, after a judge struck down a law giving property owners a voice in the process.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Shannon Johnson ruled yesterday that the petition process allowing property owners to overturn annexation is unconstitutional. The decision has many Monkey Junction residents upset.

"I want to be away from the taxes," Diane Laskowski said. "That was why we choose to move here was to be away from those city taxes."

Wilmington is among five North Carolina cities that filed a lawsuit claiming a state law giving property owners a chance to petition to overturn involuntary annexation is unconstitutional. Monday Judge Johnson agreed.

"Why would it be unconstitutional?" Monkey Junction resident Lenny Laskowski said. "We went through the trouble to get signatures and stuff like that. What's unconstitutional about that? We're trying to put forward our side."

Attorney James Eldridge, who represents Monkey Junction property owners, told WWAY Tuesday, "I totally disagree with the ruling, and I think it's ready for an appeal"

Monkey Junction residents say they, too, are upset about the decision. They don't want their taxes to go up, especially over something like a potential ballpark.

"I'm in favor of a ballpark or whatever, but I just don't think they can rely on the citizens to just keep funding all of this stuff they want to do," Diane Laskowski said.

Wilmington City Manager Sterling Cheatham said in a statement, "The City of Wilmington filed the suit to protect the interests of the city and the city's taxpayers. This ruling validates the investment we have already made in Monkey Junction to extend city services."

Property owners near Southport also got enough support to stop annexation there. Though Southport was not one of the cities that filed the suit, the ruling could also apply to its annexation process. Southport Mayor Robert Howard says, "the decision will not initially impact Southport," adding that it does "open up options for the future."

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Involuntary annexation

is, in my opinion, unconstitutional. It is simply a land grab that offers the residents no increased sevices, just increased taxes. They intentionally bought in an unincorporated area; the cities/towns are using them to increase money to their budgets without an outlay of services. Free money.

Culture of Corruption Continues

I find it VERY interesting that the judge in this case is the daughter-in-law of Tony Rand, the former NC state senator who was long-time arch opponent of annexation law reform and crony of the NC League of Municipalities (NCLM). Corruption runs in the family, as one friend puts it.

The NCLM has been the shadow, pulling the strings, behind this entire movement to get the petition process overturned. Why? Money. The NCLM is a lobbying organization in Raleigh that is funded by city taxpayers. The larger the municipality, the more money they get from city governments for membership in the NCLM. It doesn't take rocket science to realize that the NCLM has a huge stake in the continuation of unabated forced annexation.

If the involuntary (aka, forced) annexation petition process is unconstitutional, so must be the voluntary annexations that have occurred, since they can only happen when there is 100% approval via a petition process!

The cities that put forward this lawsuit have harmed every single taxpayer in the state of NC. The cities sued the State of North Carolina, the State Board of Elections and their county boards of elections, wasting state, city & county tax dollars. The State Attorney General is involved, as are attorneys for the cities & county boards of elections. Outside attorneys have been brought in. This lawsuit is frivolous and detrimental. The cities (via their councils, their lawyers, and their bureaucrats) and the NCLM had better wise up before they waste any more taxpayer money in this tight economy.

The petition process is NOT a vote. The cities first attempted to overturn the petition process by writing to the US Department of Justice last summer saying the process violated the Voting Rights Act. The USDOJ rightly concluded that it was not so.

The new annexation law is a compromise between the NCLM and the citizen groups who have stood against forced annexation because under the new legislation, the assumption is made that if a city begins annexation proceedings, it will automatically go forward unless enough property owners resist it. The means of using the protest petition process is not the same as conducting an election. It is not a "vote." The NCLM never intended to honor their end of the compromise.

Misrepresentation, abuse of power, and waste is the bottom line here. Talk about greed! Where are the Occupiers when you need them? (joke)

By all means...let the voters decide

Since this article gave next to no details on the ruling itself, here's an article from WRAL Raleigh with a little meat to it:
http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/story/10911503/

"Several municipalities with pending annexations sued late last year, arguing that the new method was unenforceable because it only gave landowners, not all voters within the area that could be acquired, the right to decide. Joseph agreed, after two hours of arguments Monday in Wake County Superior Court. The judge ruled that two local laws and portions of a statewide involuntary annexation law enacted in 2011 were unconstitutional and void."

...And since the annexation of the property at Market and Marsh Oaks gives ONLY the owner the right to decide, perhaps we can look forward to the "voluntary" annexation being stuck down as well...or at least the loophole closed in the next legislative session. Here's hoping it won't be too difficult to get the voters added to the overwhelmingly anti-annexation petitions next time around.

Taxation without representation

If a city can't balance a budget, they absorb more county residents until they run out of residents to add to their tax dole. They say it's because county residents travel on their crappy roads to get to work.
We have a great county fire service, a great Sheriff's Dept, Water and Sewer, the city has nothing to give county residents but the "honor" of doubled taxes.. keep your roads, keep your "services", and keep your hands off county taxpayers money..Like us, balance your budget and stay within your means.. The "annexation" laws are archaic and needs to be changed.. Thank you Tom Goolsby and the Republican Party, you have mhy vote.

city

wonder how many would vote to be removed from the city's grip, which should be allowed. that would put a new light on services, cost, convention centers, and ballparks.

Let

me get this straight...allowing citizens to decide in a democratic process if the want to be annexed isnt constitutional...but allowing a city to land grab without those citizens having a voice is.....WOW...I expect either the legislature will now fix this permanently...as they have stated they would.

Mayor Saffo...

I'm sure is salivating over this ruling. Fortunately, the legislature will "fix" it.

Funny

The city's argument is that all voters don't get to sign the petition, but somehow forcing annexation with no vote is OK. That is funny stuff.

If giving the voters a say is so important, will the city give its own voters a chance to vote on the ballpark?