73 percent of affected residents reject annexation
One week before the deadline, unincorporated Union County residents made it clear they don’t want to be part of any forced annexation into the Village of Marvin.
Annexation opponents delivered 1,053 anti-annexation petitions to the Union County Board of Elections Monday, Nov. 21, hand counted and verified by elections staff.
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 now gives citizens the right to reject an involuntary annexation by gathering signatures of 60 percent of property owners in the targeted area. With one week left, annexation opponents passed that mark, collecting signatures from 73 percent of the affected residents.
“This was simply the grassroots becoming aware, educated, involved and motivated to do the right thing for themselves and their neighbors,” Walden Pond homeowner and annexation opponent Paul Schneider said. “We’re proud of the effort of all of the volunteers who helped make this happen, especially our little general, Patricia Bradshaw. Without her strategic thinking, organizational skills, motivational leadership and relentless follow-through, we would have been lost.”
A group of more than 50 volunteers spent the last few weeks going door to door in the neighborhoods, asking people if they supported the annexation effort and answering questions.
“The No. 1 thing we heard from people was that they were afraid to sign the petition because they thought if they weren’t part of Marvin, their kids couldn’t go to (the) Marvin Ridge schools anymore,” Bradshaw said. “We had to explain that the school assignments don’t change.”
The anti annexation group paid a notary public to go with them and notarize each petition at the time the property owner signed, to present accurate numbers to the Board of Elections. After collecting the petitions, leaders of the opposition sealed them and placed them in a sealed container, which they delivered at the elections office Monday morning.
“I am glad people had a chance to express their will, and while I would have been happy to welcome them into Marvin, it doesn’t change our plan of maintaining and building a pleasant and secure community,” Marvin council member Ross Overby said.
Mayor Pro Tem Ron Salimao echoed Overby’s comments, but added he will wait until elections officials certify the results before acknowledging whether the village won or lost.
“We are working through the process, and in two weeks, the board of elections will certify the results,” Salimao said. “Regardless of the outcome, our goal has always been to build Marvin into a community that people want to live in, and we welcome all those who want to join us.”
A split in the numbers
According to its website, the elections board has 1,524 petitions opposing annexation, far more than the total property owners affected. Petitions exceed property owners because the elections board got 471 petitions in the mail. While some of the names may be duplicates, the two sets have to be treated as separate for now, Union County Board of Elections Director John Whitley said.
“We counted each petition in both these sets, but they won’t become official until Dec. 6,” Whitley said. “Each group will then have the right to be at the Board of Elections in person as we go through the list.”
When each set initially came in, elections staff members counted them using the list of homeowners in area Marvin wanted to annex. If someone signed a petition who was not on the list, county staff members set it aside. The elections staff only set four such petitions aside.
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 calls.
The Marvin group make the same argument, Schneider said.
“When people heard about forced annexation, unjustifiable taxation for no services, outrageous and restrictive ordinances and the fact that everything stayed the same for them except they got to keep up to $500 of their money for family use rather than village use, they signed on without hesitation,” Schneider said.
The opponents hope to bring in an additional 50 petitions before the Nov. 30 deadline, Bradshaw said.
Officials have scheduled the official petition count for Dec. 6, a Tuesday, at 10 a.m. at the Board of Elections office, 316 E. Windsor St., Monroe.