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De-annex bill languishes

N.C. Rep. Justin Burr’s legislation to de-annex properties in Badin, Stanfield and Red Cross remains alive in the N.C. House, but has yet been put to a vote following four withdrawals.

Most recently Senate Bill 531 was slated for a vote in the House on Wednesday before it was pulled and marked for Monday. The legislation had also been scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, Monday and on June 14 before being withdrawn each time. It had first been pulled from committee on June 6. Although the General Assembly’s short session was expected to conclude Friday, the session remains active and is expected to go through Wednesday.

Repeated delays might suggest Burr is having difficulty garnering support for his controversial legislation, since none of the three municipalities affected by the bill were consulted or allowed input prior to its introduction. In fact, both town boards in Badin and Stanfield unanimously passed resolutions in opposition to the legislation. Those resolutions were then forwarded to legislators in both the House and Senate.

“Speculation is Justin isn’t sure he has the votes (very close),” N.C. Rep Ken Goodman said via email Friday. “Even if the bill passes the House, I have been assured the Senate won’t hear it. He is still working his members in the House and Senate so it is not over. I am optimistic that, one way or another, this will not be enacted.”

In a special-called meeting June 15, Stanfield commissioners passed opposition, supported by the town’s planning and zoning board and its land use committee.

The resolution read in part “neither the governing body nor the voters of the town of Stanfield have consented to the introduction or passage of this legislation;…the removal of 33 parcels totaling 250 acres from the town will depress property values, disrupt long-range financing, create an uncertain business climate and remove the town’s authority to control growth.”

Earlier in the week Stanfield Commissioner Rick Williams and Wayne Sasser, who defeated Burr in the Republican primary for N.C. House District 67, traveled to Raleigh and met with legislators about the bill. Williams hand-delivered the town’s resolution. Both characterized the trip as productive, adding they seemingly had enough support to stop Burr’s legislation.

However, they have since reported some legislators called back to say Burr is threatening to not support their local legislation if those legislators do not support his bill.

The Stanly Republican added language to Senate Bill 531 in an effort to de-annex the Albemarle Correctional Institute from Badin’s town limits, the Stanfield acreage and a lot in Red Cross.

Loss of the prison would disallow Badin to count the prison’s 850 inmates as part of its total population. Since municipalities collect sales tax proceeds based on population, a reduction would cost Badin roughly $120,000 annually. Consequently, the county’s other municipalities would proportionately absorb Badin’s lost proceeds. Stanly County would gain about $45,000 more per year, with $15,000 of the sum going toward capital outlay for Stanly County Schools.

Although Stanfield’s immediate loss would be much less than Badin, the long-term loss could be in excess of $100,000 annually since part of the property proposed for de-annexation is land zoned for industrial development and home to the yet completed Riverstone Park.

In Red Cross, the call for de-annexation related to a disgruntled property owner who was denied a zoning change at the town level.

Contact Ritchie Starnes at 704-754-5076 or ritchie.starnes@stanlynewspress.com.