Annexation plan raises outcry

This article originally ran on May 28, 2003 in the Winston-Salem Journal newspaper.

By Victoria Cherrie

JOURNAL REPORTER

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

They came armed with pamphlets and stickers, and toting handmade signs opposing annexation.

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 on June 16.

Keith Stull, who lives on Monte Vista Drive, vowed to fight annexation until the end.

Last night he pounded his chest and loudly told council members that he had served his country in the 82nd Airborne.

‘Now you can do something for me,’ he said. ‘I want my right to live where I want to live.’

If the proposal is approved, the people in the annexed areas would officially become city residents on June 30, 2004.

City officials have said that the city’s reasons for wanting to expand 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 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 historically been unpopular.

This time is no different. A total of 140 people signed up to speak for three minutes each at last night’s hearing, which was expected to end after midnight.

Christopher Washington tapped his left foot and glared at his digital watch, making sure each speaker got his three minutes.

Washington’s family lives near Clemmons. He said that they don’t want to be annexed because they don’t need what the city has to offer.

Others said that their rights are being violated. They heckled Mayor Allen Joines when he said that the city is trying to be sensitive to their concerns. Many said they want to live in the country.

Others said they don’t want to give up their goats, which are not allowed in the city, and that they want to be able to fire guns or toast marshmallows on campfires behind their homes – things that aren’t allowed in the city.

‘We chose intentionally not to live in the city,’ said W.C. Flake. ‘I’m a country boy. I like country living.’

Darwin Parrish of Pfafftown said that annexation is about egos.

‘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,’ he said.

Winston-Salem has dropped from the fourth-largest to the fifth-largest city in the state, according to the 2000 Census.

Only one person spoke in favor of annexation.

Alfred Harvey was booed as he walked to the podium and while he spoke.

‘I don’t believe we should annex everyone, but I do believe you should look at the plan and annex the people who truly need to be annexed,’ he said. ‘I also believe if this city is going to grow, there’s going to be changes and we all have to make concessions to that change.’

Citizens Against Forced Annexation carried signs that said: ‘No bang for your bucks’ and ‘No Forced Annexation.’ They propped them in front of the council during the hearing. They also handed out lists of elected officials from the governor to members of the city council.

N.C. Citizens for a Sound Economy, an anti-tax group, also attended the hearing. Its members handed out stickers that read ‘No Forced Annexation.’

Joyce Krawiec, a spokeswoman for the group, said that more than 1,000 people had signed anti-annexation petitions by 9:30.

Some residents said they plan to hold the council members who vote for annexation accountable by recalling them.

‘I would like every city-council representative to think about their political future,’ said Tau Camping, who lives on Lockhurst Drive. ‘We might not be able to control your decision at this time. But once we are annexed, the majority of the people represented here will let you know through our constitutional right to vote how we feel about annexation.’

• Victoria Cherrie can be reached at 727-7283 or at vcherrie@wsjournal.com

2003 Copyright Winston-Salem Journal. The Winston-Salem Journal is a Media General newspaper.

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