DOUG ATKIN: Pinewild Doesn't Want To Be Part of Pinehurst
This is in response to The Pilot's recent coverage of the village of Pinehurst's plan to annex Pinewild.
The Sept. 24 article headlined "Annexation Battle Lines Drawn," discussing recent rulings of the N.C. Supreme Court, pointed out why Pinewild residents are fighting this battle. In reference to the case regarding the town of Marvin, the key words in the ruling are "without conferring significant benefits on the annexed property owners and residents."
Further, the court ruled, "These services must provide a meaningful benefit to the newly annexed property owners and residents."
Your article said, "Pinehurst, unlike Marvin, has many amenities to provide newly annexed residents, including the large 11-year-old Village Hall, new police station, new Fire Department ... parks and recreation and a greenway trail system."
The N.C. Supreme Court said nothing about "amenities," but it had a lot to say about "essential services."
The article also discussed Fayetteville's recent successful involuntary annexation. In reality, no court ever addressed the merits of that annexation. Unfortunately, the residents failed to meet the 60-day limit for filing their petition in court.
This meant they had to rely on a federal statute that the 60-day window did not apply for deployed military personnel. That is the issue that was decided in the courts, not the merits of forced, involuntary annexation.
Regarding the extensive quotes from Village Manager Andy Wilkison, several facts become obvious.
This is just the start of future involuntary annexations to the west of Pinewild. (I note there was no comment in the article about the village's long-term plan to grow to over 20,000 residents, as reported by Art Ashley at the Pinehurst Civic Group's forum.) So we at Pinewild and other locations further west (look out, West End and Seven Lakes) will pay Pinehurst taxes to help maintain Pinehurst's "standard of living" and to pay for even more growth!
And let's be frank about taxes. We at Pinewild pay, like everyone else, federal, state, and county taxes. In return for those taxes, from each level of government, we receive services -- something in return for our taxes. If we are annexed against our will and pay taxes to Pinehurst, we receive nothing, nada, zip, zilch. If you come into my house and take $800 to $1,000 from me without my permission, I cannot even claim a "donation." That act would be, pure and simple, akin to theft.
The current residents of Pinehurst do receive essential services for their Pinehurst taxes. How would they like to be forced to also pay taxes to say, Aberdeen or Southern Pines, and get nothing in return? Would it make them feel better if they were told they were paying these taxes to maintain the current standard of living in Aberdeen or Southern Pines? I think not.
Turning to the famous "vote," the article said the chair of the Pinewild Property Owners Association "agreed to delay annexing Pinewild until June 30, 2008." You have had numerous opportunities to set the record straight on this issue. This was a vote to delay the annexation proceedings to give us time to raise money to fight the annexation in the courts, to get organized to fight it in the General Assembly, and to fight it through the ballot box.
That was the only reason for the vote -- delay, not accept. In fact, the PPOA letter to the village reporting the vote results said, "We reiterate, of course, our continued opposition to involuntary annexation."
The village council and the citizens of Pinehurst should know that we are making good use of the time this delay has given us. We have begun an extensive fundraising campaign. We anticipate a legal fund of over $100,000. We have retained an attorney -- the same one who successfully argued the Marvin case. And we have started a drive to have the legislature look at the issue when it reconvenes in January.
In fact, the statewide StopNCAnnexation organization recently sent out a survey on forced, involuntary annexation to every candidate for the General Assembly. While the overall survey results will be released soon, I can tell you that 84 percent of the respondents strongly agreed with this statement: "I would support a moratorium on forced, involuntary annexation while a bipartisan commission studies current law for possible changes."
So, this is no slam-dunk for the village. Even its legal counsel has advised for caution. It is not right to take people's property without their consent -- or at least without their having a voice in the matter.
Doug Aitkin lives in Pinewild.
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