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CALABASH—Several residents along Beach Drive expressed concern Tuesday about the town’s plans to annex their residential area.
In March, town commissioners approved a resolution of intent to annex the mostly residential, 174.4-acre area, which includes Landing II, Oak Ridge, and portions of Shady Forest, Bonaparte’s Retreat and Somersett subdivision.
Vagn Hansen, chief planner for the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s southeastern office, outlined a report prepared by his staff at the request of the town showing the area south of the Calabash River meets the criteria for annexation.
Additional revenue generated by annexing the area, consisting of 507 lots and tracts, will make the town’s general fund “more than adequate” for extending services to the area in the first year, Hansen said.
“We have no recourse as to whether we have the right to say yay or nay?” resident Roy E. Young asked. “You have the right to just reach out and incorporate us? It just seems like I’m not living in the same country I grew up in with the definition of democracy. Any town can take you in and add all this tax money.”
He said many residents in the area are on fixed incomes.
Calabash Mayor Anthony Clemmons said the session was an informational meeting, to be followed by a public hearing scheduled May 20.
State statutes, he said, encourage towns to grow.
“One of the reasons towns grow is to provide services, so we do have a responsibility to grow, for the good of everyone,” Clemmons said.
Sherry Bayer, president of the Landing II POA, asked about a possible state-imposed moratorium on annexation. Clemmons responded if that were to come about, the town would follow the rules.
Other residents wondered what services Calabash could provide, since utilities, police and fire protection are already in place.
“I guess we’re getting a dog catcher, and that’s about it,” Landing II resident Jewell Brown said, drawing laughter.
Clemmons said if the POA petitioned the town to take over its streets, he would have no problem with that. He said the town’s 7-cent tax rate per $100 of valuation would mean a tax of $105 on a $150,000 home and $140 for a $200,000 home.
“Personally, I would never want to turn over our nice road to Calabash,” said Anita Hill of Landing II.
“Calabash is wanting everything, and they’re not giving nothing,” said resident D.L. Miller.
Town officials said the area is likely to get annexed eventually. If it isn’t by Calabash, then it will be Sunset Beach.
“At least Sunset Beach has a beach to go to,” resident Richard Sisco said. “What do you have to offer us? You don’t have a beach or anything. All we’re getting is a bill to go eat in Calabash restaurants.”
Town commissioner Forrest King said both towns border the area.
“If you’re worrying about tax dollars, we have a 7-cent tax rate,” he said. “You probably qualify for either town. The likelihood of staying unincorporated much longer is probably very slim.”
Town commissioner Cecelia Herman said she has been pleased since her community, Saltaire Village, has become part of Calabash, which has been a bonus with roads assistance and increased street lighting.
“Most importantly, we have something to say about our local government,” she said. “We’re really here to work with the citizens of Calabash. Once you’re in the town, we’re here to work for you. Unfortunately, representation has to come first, then taxation. Once you’re in the town, you will have representation.”
Clemmons urged residents to contact the town.
“I’d be happy to sit down with any of you and go over this report and answer any questions you may have,” he said.
According to Hansen’s annexation report, the proposed effective date for the annexation is July 1, 2009, if the town passes an annexation ordinance proposed for June 10 of this year.
Hansen said 365 days is the earliest the annexation can take effect after the town adopts an annexation ordinance.
Copies of the annexation report and maps are available for public viewing during regular business hours at Calabash Town Hall.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at email@example.com