Elections board mails petitions to property owners
If 884 of the property owners return their petitions to the Board of Elections by November 29, Marvin’s forced annexation bid will be stopped dead in its tracks.
For the first time since North Carolina’s annexation law was passed 42 years ago, residents will have the opportunity to reject a forced annexation by a local municipality, without going to court. The passage of Session Law 2011-173, which only affects the 2008 Marvin annexation was co-sponsored by Sen. Tommy Tucker and supported by all three House members of the Union County delegation; Representatives Craig Horn, Frank McGuirt and Justin Burr.
The Session Law allows a petition of 60 percent of affected property owners to deny a forced annexation, only applies to eight current or recent annexations statewide, but reflects similar language in the Annexation Reform Act of 2011, which applies to all future involuntary annexations.
According to John Whitley, the director of the Union County Board of Elections, 1473 petitions will be mailed on Friday, July 22, to the property owners designated by Marvin’s annexation ordinance.
“The property owners have until November 29 to return their petitions,” Whitley said. The law allows the petitioners 130 days to complete and return the petition.
In addition to the mailed petitions, the law allows the petitions to be signed in person at the Board of Elections or collected by a third party. Mr. Whitley indicated that the boar d had already been contacted by individuals requesting copies the petitions and the mailing list database, both of which are public record and available upon request.
Residents fight annexation
“Our goal is to contact every petition recipient and get 70 percent or more petitions signed and delivered,” said Patricia Bradshaw, “We need to make people aware of the issues and their rights under the new law.”
Bradshaw lives in Providence Downs South, one of the 14 subdivisions targeted in the 2008 Marvin annexation ordinance. She is a litigant in the ongoing lawsuit LeDoyen vs. the Village of Marvin, currently before Court of Appeals; and a member of the group mobilizing to canvass all the affected property owners.
“By and large the local community isn’t aware of the legislation and how it affects them,” Bradshaw said, “A lot of people are just oblivious to the implications of what it means to be annexed by Marvin.”
“Most importantly right now is for people to understand what the laws passed this year means to the community, even those not in the annexation.” Bradshaw said, referring in depth to the recent flyer distributed to Hunter Oaks residents advising them that in 2014, the annexation agreement between Charlotte, Weddington and Marvin will expire, and they would be susceptible to annexation by the city of Charlotte. Hunter Oaks and neighboring Somerset subdivisions along Rea Road, reside in Union County and are not part of any municipality.
“It’s terrible for someone to mislead people by using the fear factor of Charlotte in order to get them to voluntarily annex into Marvin, before people know what the laws that came in effect this June really does for them.” Bradshaw said, “We need to get the message out to the larger community.”
In addition to returning the completed petition, property owners may ask to serve as one of the three observers stipulated in the law, to be present during the counting process. On November 30, the Board of Elections will name the observers for the petition count.
“We will count the petitions on December 6,” Whitley said, “I expect it to be a long process.” All the petitions, returned by mail, in person or presented by a third person will be hand-counted and verified against the list.
When asked about the future of the LeDoyen lawsuit, Bradshaw said, “If we lose the petition process, the lawsuit will continue, but I am very confident with the number of volunteers we have, we will be successful.”