Former owner granted temporary access
Just 48 hours after buying land for its future park, the Marvin Village Council met in a special meeting Feb. 11 to begin the process of annexing its newly acquired land.
In a unanimous vote, the council agreed to adopt a resolution of intent to annex the municipal-owned property in the middle of the Walden Pond subdivision and call for a March 8 public hearing on the annexation.
A voluntary annexation process begins with the public hearing and typically takes two to three months to process, as opposed to an involuntary annexation which could take years. Currently, the village is embroiled in a lawsuit over a planned annexation started in 2008 involving 15 subdivisions including Walden Pond, Providence Downs and The Reserve.
The “municipal” annexation process the council initiated in the special meeting is specific to the individual parcels designated in the resolution. None of the surrounding parcels or adjoining homeowners is part of the new resolution.
Even as Marvin moves forward, lawmakers in Raleigh are considering House Bill 9, which would impose a moratorium prohibiting involuntary annexations until July 2012. The N.C. League of Municipalities opposes the bill.
Council members also discussed safety, security and supervising temporary access to the park property. Mayor Nick Dispenziere and Village Administrator Terri Patton met with Union County Sheriff Ed Cathey and Capt. Mike Easley to tour the property and discuss administrative and access issues. The officials agreed to develop a pass system requiring contractors and vendors to carry an authorization card while working on the property.
Much of the discussion about access to the park involved the former owner, Thomas Efird, who insisted he retain use of the property and pond in the sales contract. The contract says Efird “shall be granted access to the park.”
But council members wondered how many people Efird could bring to the park, such as family and friends, and whether he should have a pass.
“I think it’s going to become a major” issue, council member Ross Overby said. “I think we have to get (Efird) here and let him know that in the future things will be out of our control. At least we put them on notice that this is not a forever thing.
Council member Anthony Burman made a motion to prohibit Efird’s access to the pond and fishing, which died without a second.
“To make that motion two days after you buy it and not tell the man what you were doing, I think that’s undercutting,” council member Ron Salimao said.
Overby agreed. “If we play hard ball now, it will be more difficult in the future to limit access,” Overby said.
Salimao, who negotiated purchase of the property with then-Councilwoman Terri Patton, felt obligated, in honoring the contract, to allow Efird unfettered access to the park and pond. Efird just wanted to continue to fish with his friends, and the Village should honor the “good faith” agreement, Salimao said.
Overby suggested Efird needs to be “educated to the new reality,” that the village now owns the property and the rules governing the park will apply to everyone.
“During the negotiation with Mr. Efird, he (understood) that this is an interim activity and that when the park opens, the rules he has now may be modified by those outside of our control. We have to move him from the expectation (of) carte blanc access.”
After 40 minutes of sometimes-heated discussion, the Village Council unanimously passed a motion giving Efird a pass for the park and use of the pond, but only during daylight hours, with no more than two guests. The council specified: no campfires and Efird must clean up after himself.
The council expects to open the park to the public by September. The Parks and Recreation and Greenway Committee will discuss plans for park development on March 1.