Council has no intention of contesting petition or taking further action
The Village of Marvin is done with involuntary annexation. The council voted unanimously during their Tuesday, Jan. 10 meeting not to contest the results of last month’s petition drive or the ongoing court case.
“It seems to me to be pretty silly to continue down that path,” council member Lanny Openshaw said.
In 2008, the Marvin Village Council initiated a forced annexation to clean up some “doughnut holes” around the village, targeting 14 subdivisions and 1,447 homeowners. Residents from the unincorporated areas sued the village, as they didn’t want to be annexed in. Although the case is still at the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the council decided that if Marvin loses the case, officials would not appeal the decision. If the village wins the case, officials will take no action to force annexation upon the selected areas.
According to North Carolina state law, citizens have a right to refuse forced annexation with signatures from 60 percent of the affected citizens. In December, 84.7 percent of the property owners were against the annexation.
“(The public) won the flip of the coin, and the vast majority decided that they did not want to be part of Marvin,” Openshaw said.
Mayor Nick Dispenziere referenced other cases from other municipalities, pointing out that the concept of involuntary annexation itself was being challenged.
“(There are) other lawsuits being pursued by other municipalities over the state regarding the involuntary annexation,” Dispenziere said. “I think they’re challenging the reality of it.”
While the board agreed not to continue the forced annexation fight, they were divided on how to handle the current court case. Openshaw made a motion to direct the village attorney to notify the Court of Appeals that the Village of Marvin no longer wishes to contest the appeal. The motion was voted down 3 to 1, with council members Ron Salimao, Ross Overby and Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Burman opposing. The argument was that as the village is the defendant in the case, it’s up to the anti annexation group to have the lawsuit dismissed.
Subsequently, Burman moved to simply take no action or refuse to contest once the decision is made. The motion was approved unanimously.
“The village council has no intention of joining any lawsuit with any other municipality or on our own to try to reverse the new law, as it relates to involuntary annexation,” Burman said.
After the meeting, anti-annexation group members said they wouldn’t dismiss the court case until the village repealed its involuntary annexation ordinance. They acknowledged the fact that Marvin agreed not to take any action on the annexation, but pointed out that was a one time vote from the current council, whereas the annexation ordinance will still be in place down the road. As long as the ordinance is in effect, there’s a risk that the current or a future council could change their mind, if the lawsuit is dropped, group member Paul Schneider said.
“If we dropped the suit to stop the annexation, the annexation could become immediately effective,” Schneider said. “Exactly the opposite of our stated goals.”
Opposition members won’t feel safe until either the annexation ordinance is repealed or a judge’s order is in place to protect them, Schneider said.