They came armed with pamphlets and stickers, and toting signs opposing


About 1,100 Forsyth County residents attended a public hearing last

night at Joel Coliseum on Winston-Salem’s plan to annex 14 areas that

cover about 34 square miles and include about 24,000 people.

Council members will vote on the proposal June 16.

If approved, the people annexed would officially become city residents

June 30, 2004.

Vernon Robinson is the only council member who has publicly opposed

annexation. Council Member Robert Clark has said that he is gathering

all the information he can before making his decision. Others have not

publicly taken a position.

Robinson was among the 140 people who signed up to speak for three

minutes. The crowd applauded when it was announced during roll call that

he was present.

In the first 90 minutes of the meeting, no one spoke in favor of the


“I think the driving force of this annexation is that Durham has

replaced you as the fourth-largest city and your egos are propelling you

to get that spot back,” said Darwin Parrish of Pfafftown.

Winston-Salem has dropped from the fourth-largest to the fifth-largest

city in the state, according to the 2000 Census.

City officials have said that the city’s reasons for wanting to expand

its boundaries are twofold:

Winston-Salem is growing. By annexing areas around it, the city can

plan for and have jurisdiction over the building of the infrastructure

to support its growth.

Many people who live outside Winston-Salem work and shop in the city,

and take advantage of such city services as police protection but the

don’t pay city taxes.

State law allows cities and towns to annex surrounding areas if

certain standards are met, including population density and minimum

levels of development.

However, such actions have been historically unpopular.

This time around, Forsyth County residents opposed to annexation say

that the city’s proposal offers no benefit to them. They have argued

that they did not get to vote for the council members who will make the

final decision and that therefore annexation is unfair. Together they

have formed groups that are trying to fight the action in various ways.

Petitions against annexation are circulating around the county.

A group called the Citizens Against Forced Annexation has set up its

own Web site. There, opponents have been posting their anger and

concerns online, and sharing information about their plight.

Some people have threatened to have council members recalled.

To do so there would have to be enough signatures to equal 25 percent

of the entire vote for mayoral candidates in the last election.

Based on figures from the 2001 election, about 7,600 would be needed

for each member of the council the group wants to remove.

Residents arrived at the coliseum last night with hand-painted signs

that read “No Bang for Your Bucks.”

One sign simply read “No Annexation.”

N.C. Citizens for a Sound Economy, an anti-tax activist group, handed

out stickers that read “No Forced Annexation.”

Joyce Karawiece, a spokeswoman for the group, said that more than

1,000 people had signed anti-annexation petitions by 9:30.

Other groups handed out lists of elected officials ranging from the

governor to members of the city council.

“We know this is a very emotional issue,” Mayor Allen Joines said

during his opening remarks. “We want to be sensitive to you.”

His statement was met with heckling from members of the audience.