Local News

Annexed residents complain about lack of services

Posted October 14, 2008 6:42 p.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2008 9:26 a.m. EDT

— Three years after Fayetteville annexed about 43,000 residents, some homes still haven't been able to tap into city services like municipal water and sewer lines.

"I would say (annexation has) been an empty promise," said Lofton Stewart, a homeowner whose property was annexed after a long legal battle.

This summer, the city ran a water line within 16 feet of his well pump house, but the line was only for nearby residents whose wells were contaminated. Stewart said it could be years before he's able to access the line.

"If you're going to put the line in, why not service the residents?" he asked.

North Carolina is one of a handful of states that allow involuntary annexations. As part of the deal, the city is supposed to supply services in a reasonable amount of time.

The state House passed a moratorium on forced annexations last spring, but the Senate scrapped it, saying the bill didn't meet Senate rules.

State Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, a member of a joint legislative commission reviewing the state's annexation laws, said he sees no need for a temporary ban.

"I don't know that the law is wrong," Rand said. “What we want to do (with the study commission) is look and see what other states are doing, what’s working well.”

Under state law, a city needs to provide police and fire protection and solid waste pick-up on the first day of annexation. There is no immediate requirement for water and sewer services.

Fayetteville City Councilman Charles Evans, who wasn't on the council when the 2005 annexation was approved, wants the law changed to make sure annexed residents get such municipal services quickly.

"We should have items in place to go forward with annexation so Individuals won't have to wait half their lives for the water, for the sewer," Evans said.

Next Monday, residents of the Gates Four subdivision plan to protest a City Council vote on forcibly annexing their affluent, gated community.

"We have what we need out here to take care of ourselves," said Kathie Dees, a Gates Four resident.

Gates Four already has its own water and other services, Dees said.

"(The city wants the annexation) to get the money. That's all it is," she said.