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The Daily Tar Heel

Aldermen Discuss Land Annexation

Residents concerned about impact on town.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen held a public hearing to receive comments from residents about the possible annexation of the Winmore, Horace Williams and the Horace Williams satellite tract areas.

As soon as the item came up for discussion on the agenda, Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson said no action on the plan would be taken that evening. "It's obviously going to be a painful and controversial decision," he said.

Planning Department Director Roy Williford gave a report on the proposed annexation before any town residents spoke, outlining issues such as the existing structures on each property, the location of stream buffers and projected costs. All of the parcels are mostly wooded areas with no more than one house.

This area, called the northern transition area, is part of the joint planning agreement formed by Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County in the late 1980s, which stated that the three bodies would not annex the property individually.

The board requested a response from the Orange County Board of Commissioners for next week's alderman meeting regarding Carrboro's proposed annexation.

Chris Potter, a member of the Northern Transition Advisory Board that helped develop the agreement, was the only town member who spoke in favor of Carrboro's annexation of the tract.

"It was not my understanding that the transition area would remain woods or that it would never be a part of Carrboro," he said. "I support the process of annexation. This is where growth needs to occur."

Williford said as many as 832 homes could be built in the area proposed for annexation.

Alderman Jacquelyn Gist said she wanted to know what the annexation would ultimately cost the town and its residents. "There are serious financial complications that I need to grapple with before I can vote on this," she said.

Carrboro resident Marty Mandell said her main problem with the annexation is how much it could potentially cost. "I've been paying exorbitant taxes for some time now, and my concern is largely financial," she said. "If this property would stay within the joint planning agreement, the cost would be on the people who live there."

Mandell said the annexation would cause a huge increase in the town's budget to fund new fire and police stations, new public transportation routes, new schools and expanded garbage collection. "I feel that this annexation is a done deal ... without informing (residents) just how much we're required to pay," she said.

Many citizens spoke of the potential environmental concerns annexation could raise, namely with the Bolin Creek watershed.

Randy Dodd, a member of Friends of Bolin Creek, said annexation might have detrimental effects on the creek, which Mandell called the best natural resource in the county.

"Bolin Creek and its watershed have been impaired by the development of Chapel Hill and Carrboro," Dodd said.

Debbie Gross, a Carrboro resident, raised concerns about the possibility of increased traffic patterns brought about by the creation of a mixed-use development in the northern transition area.

"Mixed-use is a nice label so they can look politically correct, but it's really making one man and one man's family rich at the expense of the quality of other people's lives," she said.

Mandell said discussions such as the public hearing accompany being part of a town. "We're afraid this board favors annexation," she said. "I think (the situation) is nasty."

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