HAMPSTEAD -- The debate over whether the Pender County community of Hampstead should be incorporated is over. The vote wasn't even close. Seventy-two percent of voters said no. Curtis Flack works in Hampstead. He said, "It's more like a family more or less instead of a town or a city. It's more like everybody knows everybody." If Tuesday night's election results were any indication people like Flack are happy with the Hampstead community just the way it is. Hampstead resident Wendy Purser said, "Now everybody along with high gas prices and the taxes we all pay and how stretched our dollars are, I just think we don't have any more to spare." Purser voted against incorporation. She was worried her taxes would go up. But taxes weren't the only concern. Zoning in Hampstead was, and still is - a major dividing issue. Rep. Carolyn Justice (R-16th district) said, "What I'm hoping they'll consider, which they're working on now, is a zoning overlay. And that just lays a swath of zoning, say, over this Highway 17 quarter and those rules would be a little different from the more rural part of the county." Justice helped get the issue of incorporation on the ballot. "Everybody spoke," Justice said. "You spoke if you said yes, you spoke if you said no, and you spoke if you didn't vote because you said you don't care." In the rapidly growing community of Hampstead, Rep. Justice says she does believe people on both sides of the issue of incorporation will pull together to express concerns to county government. Justice said, "There are many new subdivisions on the table right now, thousands of new homes are coming, traffic to our highway, we have a lot of new issues." Regardless of people's opinion on incorporation, Justice says community members need to pull together to make Hampstead the best it can be. Justice says she thinks it'll be a long time before this issue is on the voting ballot again.
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