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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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