Annexation foes present petition

RALEIGH – A group of Cumberland County residents on Tuesday presented lawmakers with a petition against Fayetteville’s upcoming annexation. The petition has about 1,811 signatures.

The annexation is scheduled to take effect June 30. It would bring about 27 square miles and about 42,000 people into the city. The move is unwanted, unfair and undemocratic, say the residents who came to Raleigh.

The eight residents visited Cumberland County legislators Tuesday to plead their case.

They joined with Stop N.C. Annexation and Citizens for a Sound Economy, two groups lobbying against involuntary annexation.

“The bottom line is, if the majority of the citizens in Cumberland County say, ‘We want to be annexed,’ I have no action to fight,” said resident William J.L. Crisp. “But until such time as they refuse to allow me a voice, then I feel that it’s wrong. It’s inherently wrong. It’s taxation without representation.”

Referendum bill

State Sen. Larry Shaw of Fayetteville has filed legislation to try to help the people who don’t want to be annexed. If approved, the measure would require Fayetteville to hold a referendum for the potential new residents.

The annexation area includes much of Shaw’s legislative district.

State Sen. Tony Rand of Fayetteville is the state Senate Rules Committee chairman. He has the power to block bills. He thinks the city should be able to annex.

The group from Cumberland County would like Rand to relent, but “we don’t think it’ll make it,” Crisp said.

“But since the city has seen fit to be selective in giving relief to certain areas, we’re contemplating litigation,” he said.

The City Council voted to drop the Gates Four neighborhood from the annexation area after residents there sued. City officials said it would cost too much to fight the lawsuit.

That’s grounds for a new lawsuit, Crisp said.

“We feel that the city of Fayetteville is being discriminatory now, in being selective in allowing Gates Four and other areas relief from the annexation, and we feel that that’s illegal,” he said.

Resident Walter Murphy said annexation opponents have been meeting and have pledged more than $19,000 toward the legal fees should they file suit.

Staff writer Paul Woolverton can be reached at woolvertonp@fayettevillenc.com or (919) 828-7641.

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