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.