Local News

Low-income residents leery of Fayetteville annexation proposal

Posted March 13

— Interstate 295 has the Fayetteville City Council reconsidering whether to annex a neighborhood it has passed over as the city has expanded.

State Rep. Elmer Floyd, D-Cumberland, recently filed a bill in the General Assembly to allow Fayetteville to annex Shaw Heights, which includes about 1,000 residents in a 300-acre neighborhood between Murchison Road and Bragg Boulevard, along with other areas off I-295 that are ripe for commercial growth.

Fayetteville could have annexed Shaw Heights 10 years ago, but the poor, mostly minority neighborhood was skipped over. Now, the area's proximity to I-295 makes it a gateway to the city, which means it has the potential to provide more tax revenue.

"They could have done it a long time ago, but they didn't do it. They're always bypassing us. We're the last ones to get anything on Shaw Road," said Gwen Scott, who has lived in the neighborhood for 42 years.

Shaw Heights shows signs of neglect, with trash and debris piled up outside abandoned homes. Most homes are rentals that are on septic tanks – PWC provides only water to the area, not sewer service – and most residents are elderly.

Scott said she's concerned about a potential annexation, noting residents would have to pay about $6,000 to have sewer service extended into the neighborhood.

"A lot of people over here can't afford that," she said.

Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson said he doesn't support the annexation proposal because it would put a financial burden on low-income residents and duplicate services already provided by Cumberland County.

"It's these residents who can least afford the annexation cost, can least afford the new taxes," Robertson said. "They can least afford the $5,000 to $10,000 tap-on fees from PWC, and they can least afford to move out of the area somewhere less expensive."

Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin, who would represent the Shaw Heights area if Fayetteville were to annex it, said he's not certain he could support the move either.

"Those folks deserve the same type of quality of life that everyone else has in the city," Colvin said, adding that the blight in Shaw Heights needs to be cleaned up.

"Let's not spot fix it. Let's fix that and the other unincorporated areas in the city," he said. "If we're going to fix it, let's do it right. We need a planned approach so we don't have a mess."

The City Council plans to discuss the annexation issue on March 27.

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