Final count shows 84 percent of residents oppose joining Marvin
A four year annexation fight came to an end Tuesday, Dec. 6, as the Union County Board of Elections certified petition results. The final count showed that 1,226 out of 1,447 affected property owners, or 84.7 percent, opposed annexation into the village of Marvin.
“The petition process works,” Walden Pond homeowner and annexation opponent Paul Schneider said. “The numbers tell the whole story. Eighty-four percent of the residents weren’t interested in being annexed in. Forced annexation is wrong and we’re looking forward to the legislature addressing the issue.”
Schneider and fellow annexation opponents Patricia Bradshaw and Katherine Billingham served as observers for the opposition, during the petition count, while Marvin Mayor Nick Dispenziere, Mayor Pro Tem Ron Salimao and Interim Administrator Lisa Thompson observed on behalf of the village.
All total, 1,563 petitions were turned in, either mailed to the board or delivered by annexation opponents. A group of more than 50 volunteers spent the last few weeks leading up to the deadline going door to door in the neighborhoods asking people if they supported the annexation effort. During the count Tuesday, the Board of Elections found 337 duplicates, certifying 1,226 petitions as accurate. The board didn’t reject any of the submitted petitions, although the Marvin observers raised questions on 89 of them.
Dispenziere questioned some of the duplicate petitions. Even though the name was the same on both petitions, he felt the signatures were different enough to be called into question. Board members disagreed.
“All that I saw appeared to be valid,” Board of Elections Chair Bobby Griffin said.
His comments were echoed by fellow member Shirley Bossbach.
“They look the same to me, it looks like the same writing,” Bossbach said.
Dispenziere also questioned one of the petitions with multiple property owners on it. Three out of the four had signed, with the fourth reported as deceased. However unlike other petitions that had a death certificate attached, this one did not.
Griffin pointed out that state law calls for a majority of property owners to sign a petition, for it to be legal. Since three of the four signed, the board certified the parcel.
In 2008, the Marvin Village Council initiated a forced annexation to clean up some “doughnut holes” around the town, targeting 14 subdivisions and 1,423 homeowners.
State law gives citizens the right to reject an involuntary annexation by gathering signatures of 60 percent of property owners in the targeted area. In this case, 60 percent of the homeowners would be 868. Annexation opponents far exceeded that with 1226 petitions coming in.
The Town of Weddington voluntarily cancelled a forced annexation in 2010 after facing a similar situation. 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 service agencies answer
Barring any legal challenge, state law prevents the village from attempting to forcibly annex the same area for three years. Board members set aside the petitions, to be stored until the legal situation is sorted out.
Saying he couldn’t speak for the full council, only because they hadn’t met to discuss it, Dispenziere said it was time to move on.
“Speaking for myself, I would not pursue any legal action,” Dispenziere said. “I think the people have spoken. We didn’t do a good job explaining the benefits of being in Marvin.”