UPDATE: De-annexation bill pushed back until fall

Many thought time had run out for a de-annexation bill targeting Badin, Stanfield and Red Cross.

Despite being on the calendar nearly every day this week, N.C. Senate Bill 531 did not make it to the floor before the state legislative session adjourned until November. Instead the bill was repeatedly withdrawn, bumping back a vote daily. Then just before the General Assembly adjourned on Thursday, the bill was officially removed from the calendar.

“It’s dead and buried,” N.C. Rep. Ken Goodman (D-Richmond) said.

Rep. Justin Burr

But Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly), who introduced the legislation which aimed to remove key properties from Badin and Stanfield, as well as a parcel from Red Cross, says the bill is not dead.

“The House has not adjourned for the year,” Burr wrote in an email Friday night, after press deadline. “We adjourned until the end of November. All previously filed bills from 2017/2018 and bills filed in November when we returned will be eligible to be heard. …

“I’ve delayed moving forward with the legislation until November because I have other property owners in Stanly County municipalities who have requested to be added to the bill,” Burr added.

Goodman’s district does not yet include Stanly, but a northern chunk of the county that includes Badin will be folded into it after the next election.

“So this bill really concerned me,” he said.

The bill would take Albemarle Correctional Institute out of the Badin town limits, along with 825 inmates and about $120,000 in annual sales tax revenue.

As for Stanfield, the bill could remove 33 parcels of land totaling about 250 acres from the town limits, including a pair of properties intended as a new industrial park.

“That was $70,000 to 80,000 a year for us,” Stanfield Commissioner Rick Williams said. “More if you count future development at the industrial park.”

But perhaps even more concerning was the precedent the legislation nearly set, all three men agreed.

Of the three municipalities affected, none endorsed the de-annexation of land, they noted. In fact, town councils in both Badin and Stanfield passed unanimous resolutions against it.

“We did have a few residents sign a petition supporting it,” Williams said. “But after talking with them at our last meeting, I don’t believe they were fully aware of all it entailed.”

As such, this may be the first time the state has attacked a small town with such unasked-for legislation, Williams asserted. While researching the bill, he found only one town of their relative size — Mineral Springs — that had property de-annexed by the state without the town’s support.
“There was also opposition there, but they had the consent of the county commissioners at least,” Williams said.

Local bills — legislation that affects only one specific area — are rarely introduced without some kind of request, petition or resolution from local residents and/or officials, Goodman agreed. And because of that, local bills are generally honored in both chambers of the General Assembly without much opposition.

“I was very concerned this would go through because of that,” Goodman said. “Generally if a member introduces a local bill, members of the House respect it, especially between party members.”

And with a Republican majority in both sides of the N.C. General Assembly, there seemed small chance that the bill would be opposed.

However, people both in and out of Raleigh lobbied against the bill. Goodman spoke with both Republicans and Democrats between legislative sessions. Williams met up with more than 60 representatives and 15 senators. Many others called in or sent emails, both noted.

“There were people across the county that supported us,” Williams said. “From the day it happened, we had people calling to ask, ‘What can we do?’ … It makes me hopeful for Stanly.”

Badin Town Manager Jay Almond agreed.

“There were a great many people in Stanly County who responded with responsible, positive action when they learned about Senate Bill 531 and there is no way I can possibly describe what that really means to the people of the Town of Badin,” Almond said.

“It’s my hope that we won’t see it again,” Williams said.

Contact Shannon Beamon at 704-982-0816 or shannon.beamon@stanlynewspress.com.