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Fayetteville to annex 43,000 People

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On June 30, the city will extend its limits westward to the Hoke County line, taking in 28 square miles and 43,000 people.

Council members D.J. Haire and Juanita Gonzalez cast the dissenting votes.

Gonzalez said the City Council never fully studied the plan and considered all of its options.

Haire said he voted against the plan because it will weaken minority voting strength. Haire is one of five blacks on the 10-member council.

Voting for the annexation were Mayor Marshall Pitts Jr., Mayor Pro Tem Mark Kendrick and council members Anne Fogleman, Jimmy Keefe, Lois Kirby, Robert Massey, Mable Smith and Curtis Worthy.

The council's action may face legal challenges.

Residents of Gates Four, a gated community off Lakewood Road, have retained a lawyer to consider their options.

Bryce Neier, a lawyer, said he has been contacted by several residents "and the tone of those calls is a tone of litigation."

Neier said the annexation plan says the city would be responsible for services.

"Being responsible and providing services are two different things," Neier said

The council's vote followed a passionate speech by Pitts.

"Stop selling fear; let's talk about the facts," Pitts said.

Pitts discussed each of the arguments opponents have made against annexation. Pitts attended several of the public meetings the city held on annexation.

"I've taken a lot of abuse from a lot of people," he said. "I've tried to keep an objective mind."

Pitts said those opposing annexation waged a campaign of threats, verbal abuse and intimidation. Massey called their efforts a "major" misinformation campaign

Pitts said the law allows for forced annexation as a way to promote orderly growth. He said previous annexations have not adversely affected those on fixed incomes or the military families who have bought homes here.

Several residents predicted an increase in real estate foreclosures because residents would not be able to pay utility assessments.

"Somehow, someway, we've made it work," Pitts said.

Many of the affected residents said they saw no benefits from annexation. They said they were satisfied with the services provided by Cumberland County or private contractors.

Several residents said all that annexation would bring was a municipal trash can and higher taxes.

Pitts said cities throughout the state hear "they are the big bad bully" when it comes to annexation.

"Do your homework," Pitts said. "The city is not taking advantage of county residents." He noted that residents praised county services such as the sheriff's office, the fire marshal and inspections - "none of which are provided to the city," he said. "We pay millions to subsidize these services."

He also chided the people who have threatened to boycott shopping in the city, noting that two-thirds of the sales tax collected in Fayetteville goes to the Cumberland County.

Final speeches

Before the vote, residents got one last chance to voice their opinions. Monday was the council's open forum, which allowed residents to state their concerns. Nine of the 11 speakers opposed annexation.

Charles Ragan, who lives on Adkins Hill Drive near the Hoke County line, said the city launched a "shock and awe" annexation campaign.

The shock was the extent of the plan and the awe was "outrageous assessments for sewer," he said.

Cumberland County Commissioner Tal Baggett, who attended Monday night's meeting, said the city's "big-bang" annexation plan will be a "big disaster" because it's too large. Baggett has been a constant critic of the city annexations.

Bringing public sewer to the area was one of the reasons cited by the city for annexation. The Public Works Commission estimates as many as 8,000 of the 15,000 parcels in the area need sewer.

Initially, the PWC said the per lot cost could be as much as $10,000, all of which would be paid by the property owners. When residents complained that was too much, the City Council capped assessments at $5,000.

Tom Parent, who lives in the Summerhill neighborhood, was among those who said $5,000 was still too expensive.

Parent said the cap should have been $2,000 - the amount of assistance the city said it can provide to low- and moderate-income residents.

Parent said the PWC should hire a grant coordinator to find money to pay the $3,000 difference between city aid and the cap. He said the PWC should have an early payment plan for those wanting to prepay for sewer service.

He said if he could pay $3,875 - the last sewer assessment ordered by the council - he would do it July 1 and then "wait for the sewer to come to me."

Several council members said last-minute phone calls affected their votes.

Kendrick said he got a phone call from a developer Monday afternoon. They talked about septic tanks. Kendrick said the developer told him he had just paid $3,500 to fix a septic tank.

Kendrick said the developer's argument convinced him to vote for annexation. Why pay for $3,500 for a "nonpermanent" fix when you could pay $3,500 to fix the problem forever, he said.

Massey said he got calls from residents urging him to "stay the course" and vote for annexation.

'Silent majority'

Massey and Worthy said the callers represented the silent majority, who chose not to speak at public meetings out of fear.

Massey acknowledged that "city services are not perfect."

Gonzalez asked why the city wanted to annex when it would not provide basic services such as trash collection to its residents.

Massey said the council will direct City Manager Roger Stancil to make "certain things" a priority. At the top of the list will be trash collection, he said.

City promises did not seem to make a believer out of Annie Worth, who lives in the Southgate neighborhood near Seventy-First High School.

Worth attended her first meeting on annexation Monday night.

"Will it do me any good?" Worth asked. "I don't know; I'll wait and see. They will have to show me."

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North Carolina seems to have an unusually high nmber of cities that are important to it, but not that well known outside the state/region. Charlotte is the only one with much national recognition. Virtually everyhing I know about Raleigh I learned on the forum. Do the large number of small but important cities hurt the growth of the main center, Charlotte?

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No I don't think they hurt Charlotte. But I think Charlotte makes it a challenge for the other major cities in NC to step into the spotlight. Charlotte is like a huge vacuum and it sucks in alot of opportunity that might go to Greensboro/Winston-Salem or Raleigh/Durham. Charlotte have made if difficult for Winston-Salem to remain a banking center. This was obvious when The Wachovia headqaurters move from WInston-Salem to Charlotte. Those cities have to differentiate themselves to move forward. Winston-Salem should showcase its historical and cultural value. Those are the city's big stregnths. While Charlotte is the financial hub of the southeast, Greensboro should promote itself as the Transportation hub of the southeast. Greensboro's central location on the east coast seaboard and being halfway between Atlanta and Washington, DC is a big advantage for Greensboro. Not to mention the large network of some of the nation's most important interstates that converge in Greensboro. This is why FedEx chose Greensboro over other cities. Greensboro should focus on transportation, logistics and the industries that follow such as tehcnology industries. Raleigh/Durham should continue to focus on Research.

One thing I did notice though. Whenever something in Charlotte or Raleigh makes national headline news on tv, the news identifies the city as Charlotte, North Carolina or Raleigh, North Carolina, I think Charlotte is well know across the coutry enough to drop the North Carolina. It get even worse when something makes natioanl headline news in Greensboro or Winston-Salem. They just leave out the city names all together and say "North Carolina". I think the Triad lacks an identity more so than Charlotte or the Triangle.

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North Carolina has transformed from a state with a thousand small towns dotted about, to a state with continuous suburbs. The thing you notice about North Carolina is that there are no vast territory of rural land, even in the mountains. You are never very far away from a Micropolitan Area in NC. What used to be small towns are now medium to large size towns, what used to be small cities are now medium size cities on the cusp of being large cities. North Carolina is becoming very much like New Jersey, with continuous suburban development. The distinction is that NC's suburbs abutt our state's own cities (except for the area south of Norfolk), while New Jersey's suburbs abutt New York City and Philadelphia.

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While I think Charlotte is generally better known than Raleigh, I have noticed that a substantial number of people know about Raleigh that don't know about Charlotte. Also, a lot of people still misidentify Charlotte as being in South Carolina. Every school kid learns that Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina, but lots of confusion remains about Charlotte's location.

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I can't comment on "who knows what" about NC cities, but Charlotte is definitely known to those in the banking industry, the Triangle is known to those who are in the technology/biotechnology fields (RTP is still the largest research center in the United States, and one of the largest in the world), while Jacksonville and Fayetteville are known to those in the military sector. Wilmington could have been known more if the port had received major upgrades to provide a good imports/exports destination, and I am sure that the name itself is sometimes confused with Wilmington, DE. Before I visited North Carolina for the first time (over 12 years ago), I knew nothing about NC cities, but as a resident of this state (since March of 1992), I learned a lot and spread the word about the good quality of life in this state. Most people here know a lot about NC, but several others don't.

Fayetteville is certainly an area that suffers from bad image. I do not know how annexing 43,000 people will help that city to grow properly, while justify collecting more taxes, but I would like to beleive there are a few good plans for the future. Fayetteville's proximity to Raleigh, Wilmington and South Carolina should work for the better, but I have yet to hear any "good news" from Fayetteville. I wish there was at least one forumer from that area to give us updates and clear any misconceptions.

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i know this is old news but id like to update it... this plan never happend, it did for like one day, but soon after the took the city limits back and it faild to continue... im sure it will come up again soon and will happen... no doubt... but the pop of fayetteville is at 300k almost 400k, and yes Ral NC, Fayetteville suffers from a very bad image... it was only 5-6 yrs ago fayetteville was rated 3rd most violent crime rate in the US, then droped completely low for the all american city of 01... but it still continues today to be one of the highest crime rate citys in NC, and rated around 43 or so overall on all mid metro-large metro citys, and it rates in the top 10s of worse mid metro... but all in all Fayetteville is a good place to get away from the major city life n the country life as well... it can be a pretty fun place if you know where to go, but it lacks entertainment... tons of jobs have recently been poping up as more factorys plan to build here, and a new state park is bein built in fayetteville.... but it needs more life, more fun, less crime, and fayetteville will least be a great city in the south east

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In my travels, I have never had to add "North Carolina" behind the city, when I am asked where I live. Everyone I've ever encounted out of state has recognized Raleigh. Some people have asked me questions about both Raleigh & Charlotte and I am always happy to answer. It seems that both cities have received national attention to some degree.

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