County Rescinds Anti-Annexation Vote
The Moore County Board of Commissioners officially pulled out of the Pinehurst-Pinewild annexation controversy Monday night.
Voting unanimously, the commissioners agreed to rescind a resolution passed last May opposing involuntary annexation by municipalities.
"I don't think it's right for me, as a county commissioner, to try to tell towns what to do," said Vice Chairman Larry Caddell, who offered the second to the motion by Chairman Colin McKenzie. "This, to me, is not a political decision."
At issue was a measure titled "Resolution Supporting the Orderly Provision and Expansion of Local Public Services." Although the resolution did not mention Pinehurst or Pinewild by name, the annexation controversy had been a clear issue at the time it was passed by the previous board, just as it remains an issue today.
The board voted 3-2 in May to adopt the resolution, with Mc-Kenzie and Commissioner Tim Lea casting the dissenting votes then. David Cummings, Virginia Saun-ders and Mike Holden voted in favor.
Those three have since been replaced, their seats now filled by Caddell, Jimmy Melton and Cindy Morgan.
"As a former mayor of Carth-age, I know that Carthage would not be what it is today without annexation," Caddell said.
For the Monday night meeting, McKenzie pulled out of his files the same statement he read into the record last May when he spoke against adoption of the resolution and also voted against it. He read it again.
"It was camouflaged a little bit," McKenzie said of the language used in the resolution last May.
At that time, McKenzie objected to including the resolution on the board's consent agenda, a part of the agenda usually containing routine items of business that are not controversial.
The board approves those matters in one vote without discussion. Because it was controversial, the item was pulled from the consent agenda and discussed and voted on during the regular part of the agenda last year.
Lea voted in favor of rescinding the resolution but did urge fellow commissioners to delay their vote until the public had had time to speak their views on the issue.
More Advance Notice
He complained that the board was doing the same thing it did last year by placing the issue on the agenda without adequate advance notice. He proposed that the board delay action until a special meeting called for Monday, Feb. 26, to discuss other issues.
"It should never have been brought before this board," Lea said. "It should not be brought before this board without advance notice."
Lea said he had received almost 30 e-mail messages and telephone calls ex-pressing concern about the resolution.
"This board is trying to do the same thing the previous board did," Lea said.
His motion to table failed for lack of a second.
In response to Caddell's comment about politics, Lea said the issue has nothing to do with politics but does deal with due process. Lea said it would not hurt to wait until the Feb. 26 meeting to give the public more time to study the matter and to speak out.
Others on the board saw no point in waiting inasmuch as minds were already made up. Proposed rescission of the resolution was on the regular agenda for the Monday night meeting and had been publicized in The Pilot.
"I don't think anyone is not aware of the situation in Pinehurst and Pinewild," Melton said. "I don't think postponing it another week will change anything. Everyone is fully aware of what's going on."
The board's action also followed a letter from four municipal managers who jointly urged the commissioners to rescind the resolution "as a means of fostering the new cooperative spirit among local governments in Moore County, which has been enhanced further with the election of the new Board of County Commissioners and your leadership."
The letter, dated Feb. 7 and addressed to McKenzie, was signed by Southern Pines Town Manager Reagan Parsons, Carthage Town Manager Carol Sparks, Aberdeen Town Manager Bill Zell and Pinehurst Village Manager Andy Wilkison.
In the letter, the managers said the May 2006 resolution carries no legal standing and "can only serve to cause tension between municipalities and those citizens who seek to thwart annexation efforts."
The managers cited state law that supports municipal annexation efforts. They said the 2006 resolution "only serves to attempt to undercut, without any legal authority, the right of municipalities to undertake annexation."
Despite Lea's concerns that the public did not have opportunity to speak on the resolution issue, the subject did arise early in the Monday night meeting during the public-comment period.
Southern Pines Town Council-man Chris Smithson urged the commissioners to rescind the resolution and pointed out that some unincorporated communities, such as Midway and Jackson Hamlet, "desperately need assistance" from neighboring municipalities.
Wilkison reminded the commissioners that they represent all of Moore County, including municipalities.
"Municipalities need to be able to grow," he said.
Speaking against rescission were Ed and Kathy Kennedy, who expressed strong opposition to any decision to rescind the resolution.
Transfer Tax Pulled
Comments were also made by Judith Borden and Jim Thomas in opposition to another resolution on the agenda, a proposal supporting a land transfer fee as an alternate source of county revenue.
Thomas, president of the Moore County Association of Realtors, read a statement supporting other revenue sources, such as an additional sales tax, a school bond referendum and Medicaid relief, but not a transfer fee.
"Everyone is entitled to affordable housing," Thomas said.
He reported that 86 percent of all deed transfers in Moore County involve local residents, not wealthy newcomers or developers.
Borden said the fee would place a burden on the population.
Prior to the public-comment period, however, McKenzie an-nounced that the land transfer fee had been pulled from the agenda for further discussion at the special meeting on Feb. 26.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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