Juneberry Ridge Farm annexation stalls at Norwood Town Council meeting
Published 9:37 am Wednesday, April 7, 2021
The annexation of Juneberry Ridge Farm in Norwood was delayed after the town council split on a motion during Tuesday’s regular meeting.
After a public hearing on the subject lasted just over an hour, Councilman Robbie Cohen made the motion later in the meeting for the annexation. Cohen’s motion was to approve the annexation of two parcels of land on Juneberry totaling 16.4 acres. The parcels are part of the 525 acres owned by the farm.
Cohen’s motion was contingent on the approval of House Bill 19 by the General Assembly, which would lift Norwood’s restrictions on how much land the town can have voluntarily annexed. His motion was also contingent on Juneberry asserting in a letter by its counsel stating the farm released all rights to curbing, limb collection and street lights. The motion also stated the farm would not need daily police patrols.
Councilman Wes Hartsell seconded the motion, but Mayor Linda Campbell and Mayor Pro Tem James Lilly voted against it. With Betty Harrison not at Tuesday’s meeting, the motion tied 2-2.
The sticking point for herself and Lilly, Campbell said after the meeting, was fire taxes, along with having fire taxes and no daily police patrols in writing for the council.
Center Rural Volunteer Fire Department taxes residents in the county 10 cents per $100 of value for their properties, which are collected by the county. If the two parcels of land were annexed, they would be covered by the town’s agreement with Center Rural. Norwood pays Center Rural $75,000 annually to provide fire service for the town.
Juneberry would then be taxed at the town’s rate, 39 cents per $100, and the money would go to Norwood and not Center Rural. Town Manager Scott Howard said state law would require Norwood be responsible to make up the difference to Center Rural if Juneberry was annexed.
“Everything we have done has been to satisfy the town’s concerns,” Juneberry Business Development Manager Rob Boisvert said. “We will continue to do that and persevere. Hopefully, we will be able to satisfy their added concerns.”
Boisvert said the farm had provided the town with a letter stating they were forgoing street lighting, curbing and limb pickup.