Sen. Blake Says Annex Bill Has Fighting Chance
If the Involuntary Annexation Moratorium Bill makes it out of the Senate Committee on Rules and Operations and onto the Senate floor, it has a fighting chance at approval according to Sen. Harris Blake.
"[If voted on], it is my opinion that it would pass," said Blake in a phone interview Wednesday. Blake is a Republican who represents Moore and Harnett counties.
The bill, which would impose a nine-month moratorium on involuntary annexations across the state, was approved by the N.C. House by a huge margin of 98-15 on July 2. According to previous reports, Senate leaders indicated they were hesitant to vote on such a bill.
Even the leaders of the Pinewild anti-annexation movement, who helped score the major upset victory in the House, were less than optimistic about the bill's chances in the Senate. Some Pinewild residents have been engaged in a fight to stop Pinehurst's involuntary annexation of the gated community since the village announced its intentions to do so.
Pinehurst had hoped to complete the annexation by June 30, but a lawsuit and the moratorium bill have delayed those plans.
Blake declined to speculate on if and when the bill would make it out of the Rules Committee. He said that decision was entirely up to Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, chairman of the committee. As of Wednesday, the bill has not been added to the Senate calendar for a vote.
If the Rules Committee kills the bill or it fails in a vote, annexation opponents would be forced to go back to the drawing board to find a new way to have the existing annexation laws amended.
Blake also said he had "no idea" of how he would vote on the bill, but noted that the moratorium movement has gained a lot of traction with the general public. Blake said involuntary annexation does have its merits and that he would not hamper towns hoping to annex land involuntarily if it clearly benefited all parties involved. He said he also understood the annexation opponents position and respects it.
He added that voluntary annexation is "pretty noble stuff."
Because of pending federal litigation in the Pinewild case, Blake said he did not think the bill would influence the situation in Moore County.
If passed by the Senate, the moratorium would go into effect on Aug. 31 and expire on May 31, 2009.
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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