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Belville Council opposes Leland merger, bars mayor from talking about it

READ MORE: Belville board opposes merger, mayor's secret meetings with Leland officials
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BELVILLE, NC (WWAY) -- Lying, holding backroom meetings and going behind the backs of the board and people of Belville to secretly move forward in merging with Leland. These are things Belville Mayor Jack Batson was accused of Thursday night during a heated special town meeting.

"We weren't consulted," Belville Town Commissioner Joe Breault said. “We weren't advised. We were blindsided.”

The room was packed as residents and board members voiced their opposition to the merger, accusing Mayor Batson of moving the process forward without approval from commissioners.

"These discussions have been going on for six weeks, and no one has known about it,' Belville resident John Clark said. "That's not the way to run a government. That's not the way to be a spokesman for this town."

Batson says he was not misrepresenting the board, though he admits to discussing the merger without the board.

"Nobody in that room wants to know what's good about a merger, and that's what disappointed me about the whole process, and they want to shut down the citizens from knowing," Mayor Batson said.

The board passed a resolution saying commissioners are against the merger and Mayor Batson can no longer discuss it in any manner whatsoever while acting and/or appearing as Belville's Mayor. Batson did not vote as there was no tie.

"I don't think we trust the mayor," Breault said. "I think we have reservations about what he'll say or do."

"That hurts, of course," Batson said. "But they'll never be able to say why they don't trust me."

Will the board be able to move on from this?

"We will try for the benefit of the people, because that's who we represent," Breault said. "I was elected by the people to represent the people of Belville not Leland."

This is not the first time Breault and Mayor Batson have had issues with each other. In March, Breault was arrested and charged with communicating threats and cyber stalking after Batson filed a warrant. The charges were later dropped.

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