The Taylortown Council voted unanimously during a special meeting Tuesday evening to proceed with annexing property owned by Mayor Ulysses Barrett and his wife.
After voting to accept the certification of the "sufficiency” of the petition submitted by Barrett and his wife, Diane, which is supposed to be done by the town clerk, the council then set a public hearing for 3 p.m Sept. 18.
Though the council recused the mayor from voting during its previous meeting last week, he still raised his hand when council member James Thompson called for a show of hands. Thompson presided over the meeting, which lasted less than five minutes.
Council members made no comments, and Thompson adjourned the meeting.
The town clerk informed the council during its regular monthly meeting on Aug. 27 that Barrett had submitted a petition for voluntary annexations and that he had asked for a motion for the board to to recuse himself from voting on the matter. The board then adopted a resolution authorizing the town clerk to “certify the sufficiency of the petition.” That is required by state law for a town to annex property.
The property consists of five individual parcels totaling 15.17 acres with a combined assessed value of $74,160, according to a legal description included with the petition submitted Aug. 22 by the Barretts. They range in value from $1,900 to $43,070.
The parcels are all contiguous to the current town limits.
Three smaller parcels appear to front on Main Street, with one abutting property owned by Thyrone Barrett. One of the two larger parcels abuts property owned by Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina that fronts on N.C. 211.
The council voted to annex the 12-acre tract on N.C. 211 in May, which led to the Pinehurst Village Council suing Taylortown, contending that it violated state law.
The town attempted to annex Barrett’s property in June, soon after Pinehurst filed its lawsuit. The town pulled the plug on it after a group of Pinehurst residents living in nearby Pinewild Country Club challenged the legality of a required legal notice for the public hearing.
The town said in a later legal ad in the The Pilot that the previously advertised hearing “has been canceled until further notice.”
Several Pinewild residents had argued previously that a legal ad that appeared in the May 22 edition of The Pilot about the public hearing did not meet the requirements of state law because it provided no information on the location of the property, who owns it or any other details.
Barrett had previously said following a meeting in May that it was in the “vicinity” of another tract on N.C. 211 that the town has attempted to the annex.
Pinehurst is asking a Superior Court judge to nullify that annexation in its lawsuit.
The Taylortown Council unanimously approved the non-contiguous annexation without comment May 13 despite warnings from village officials and a group of residents of neighboring Pinewild Country Club that it violated state law.
The suit also names Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, which owns the property, and the Plumbing Knight Inc., which had an option to purchase the land at the time. The complaint states that they are “necessary parties to this action only because each has or may have property interests” in the tract and that “it is only the defendant Taylortown which engaged in the unlawful actions.”
The property at issue is the same site Rodney Swarms, who owns the Plumbing Knight, asked the county to rezone for a commercial development last year. The rezoning drew opposition from Pinewild residents. A public hearing on the rezoning was delayed twice and never rescheduled.
The village says in its complaint that Taylortown never informed the applicant that the annexation was illegal, and that it has “actual and/or constructive knowledge” of that fact. It says the “black-letter law of North Carolina for decades” has been that the amount of land taken in through satellite annexations cannot exceed 10 percent of its total land area.
The suit also says the town’s primary corporate limits consist of 757 acres. Two previous satellite annexations — the largest being the 81-acre Pinesage subdivision — total slightly more than 89 acres. This tract would add another 12 acres, exceeding the 10 percent threshold.
The village contends that state law also prohibits one municipality from annexing land that is closer to another one when there is no annexation agreement in place between the two. No such agreement exists between the two.