Justices to wait until petitions are collected to make a judgement
The legal fight over Marvin’s proposed annexation has been set aside, at least until November. Justices with the North Carolina Court of Appeals announced Thursday, Aug. 18 they were holding off on a ruling in the case, because of the recent change in state law.
“At such time as the petition process has been completed with respect to the involuntary annexation at issue in this case, counsel for the parties shall file a joint report, describing the outcome of the petition process,” Appeals Court Clerk John Connell wrote. “Upon filing of the report, the Court shall either proceed to decide the issues raised in the pending appeal on the merits, dismiss the pending appeal as moot or take other appropriate action.”
The petition process Connell referred to is the one which came as a change in state law. House Bill 845 gives citizens the right to reject an involuntary annexation. If 60 percent of the property owners in an area targeted for forced annexation sign the petition, the annexation would be defeated. If that happens in this case, Connell said the court would just dismiss the lawsuit, as it would be pointless since the annexation wouldn’t go through at that point.
The town of Weddington pulled out of a forced annexation in 2010 after facing a similar situation. The annexed property would have included Chatsworth, a subdivision off Providence Road; the neighborhoods of Victoria Lake, Hawkstone and Hampton Fare. A survey of the residents showed 70 percent had no interest in joining Weddington, saying they didn’t see any new or improved services offered. Sheriff’s deputies patrol those areas, and various fire departments and emergency medical services answer calls.
Marvin Mayor Pro Tem Ron Salimao said he felt comfortable with the court’s decision.
“I’m fine with that,” Salimao said. “I think the people will speak on where they want to go.”
Connell said that no later than 14 days after the petition process has been finalized, the court would make their final decision. This marks the latest legal step in what’s been a three year process.
The current court battle is the latest in a series. In May of this year, Superior Court Judge David Lee denied the town’s motion to complete its 2008 annexation plan.
“The Court has determined that the scattered omissions of petitioners’ parcels from the area sought to immediately annexed would likely lead to confusion and would not promote the uniform and sound urban development contemplated by our annexation laws,” Lee wrote in his ruling.
Marvin’s attorneys had based their motion on North Carolina General Statute 160A-38 which allows the Superior Court to permit the annexation to be effective to areas not under challenge in the courts. The town had offered to exclude all 80 of the landowners named in the lawsuit from annexation, if the court would allow them to annex the remaining properties. The 39-page motion made it clear the town intended to annex all the properties listed in the annexation ordinance, which included those properties the town had agreed to exclude for the purpose of the motion. If approved, the agreement would have brought in 14 subdivisions and more than 1400 homes to Marvin.
After the Superior Court rejected the proposal, that’s when the town went to the Court of Appeals.
“I’m just looking to move forward,” Salimao said. “If you want to come and be part of Marvin, then come on in. We’re a small town with limited services, who wants to protect open spaces.”