Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cantankerous Council Commands Crooked Contract, Crosses Commission

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday night, the Wilmington City Council voted to go forward with a satellite annexation of a developer's property located in the Marsh Oaks area of North Market Street, some two miles from the city boundary.

What makes this especially interesting, is that the reason this issue even came up, is because the New Hanover County Commission denied the developer's zoning request to build a 282-unit apartment complex in an area that simply cannot handle anymore traffic load. The developer simply went to the city to ask to be annexed in exchange for favorable zoning to build his project, despite NC case law specifically addressing this type of bilateral agreement between city and developer, and citing it as illegal in two cases specifically, Chrismon v. Guilford County; and especially in Good Neighbors of South Davidson v. Town of Denton. The issue is also discussed at length in a very insightful article by Robert Ducker for the UNC School of Government.

Despite hearing from dozens of concerned citizens from the affected area, as well as other citizens concerned with the unnecessary excesses of government, the city council proceeded without hesitation. Many excellent arguments were made against this as being a completely raw deal for the upper middle class neighborhood of Marsh Oaks, who will now have to welcome Section 8 voucher receivers - and the statistical crime that accompanies them - as their neighbors, despite their personal decisions to purchase their properties in an affluent part of the county.

Council's only concerns were whether or not they had to provide any services to the developer's property. The answer was largely no, so it appeared as a win/win to a council completely indifferent to a community's plight. Furthermore, two of the New Hanover County Commissioners addressed the council, warning them that going through with this as presented would severely hinder the previously good working relationship between the city and county. Since the ignoring of this warning, the fallout has already started to transpire.

Councilwoman Margaret Haynes, in her typical smug disposition, stated that she often hears how government should be run like a business, and in doing so, she would apply a cost-benefit analysis to this issue. According to her, the decision is all benefit and minimal cost. However, she has never shown any propensity to conduct the affairs of government in any other way like a business, such as cutting taxes and implementing cost-saving measures to run more efficiently.

Several citizens alluded to the obvious quid pro quo that seemed evident between the developer and the city. One glaring testament to this was that the developer's own PowerPoint presentation was entitled, "Voluntary Annexation & Zoning Request". This truly speaks to the nature of the issue, that the developer is only asking to be annexed if in fact he can be granted the proper zoning to go forward with his project. The NC Supreme Court has defined this practice as "illegal contract zoning"; and it is, in fact, illegal.

Councilman Kevin O'Grady, also smug in his tenor, feigned outrage at several citizens alleging a "deal" between the developer and the city, stating that he never made any such deal. However, although a true deal may in fact be in the works, even without a solid "deal"  being struck, it is obvious to anyone with any intelligence that there is a definite understanding between the two entities about what needs to take place for both to benefit.

County Commission Chairman Ted Davis stated that this is a slippery slope, since the precedent is set that anyone who has a project denied by the county, can simply approach the city for what they want, and the city will most likely oblige. This current council has made it clear that Wilmington is, in fact, for sale.

1 comment:

  1. Why does the City of Wilmington feel it has to annex as much of New Hanover County as possible or it will die? Why did Wilmington agree to voluntarily annex a small area of Porters Neck that is not even developed? Is it legal for them to do this? I thought there were certain requirements before a city could annex anything, but apparently the cities will now take anything and everything whether it makes sense or not. The county had already turned down the developers request for rezoning due to area residents concerns and traffic concerns. But now, since the developers agree to a voluntary annexation, the city can override the county and let this happen? I hope the city can be stopped from rezoning this property so all the developers get is added taxes for themselves and not what they tried to buy. The concerns of area citizens because they are not in the city no longer count, and the traffic problems do not matter as long as the city gets to expand? The State Legislature did a wonderful thing in stopping forced annexation, but needs to go further. Stop voluntary satellite annexation, and repeal the 5 mile rule. If Wilmington can not survive with the people it has already enslaved, adding more will not change anything. Annexation is not about being necessary for Wilmington to survive, it is about Wilmington's Mayor and City Council wanting to control all of New Hanover County that will be profitable to them. What the people want doesn't matter anymore, if it ever did. Government has been allowed to outgrow accountability, and it is time for it to stop! Decisions made by greedy politicians that adversely affect peoples lives need to stop. I wish the Legislature would put a stop to this type of behavior, It would stop a lot of tax payer dollars from being wasted. If Wilmington can not survive without expanding, then it needs to dissolve its city charter, and free the people it has enslaved all these years. This country was founded on freedom, and this argument that people living outside of the city get the benefits without having to pay is ridiculous. I thought the city wanted people to visit and spend money, and now anyone doing this needs to pay a fee, forever? If the city had not forcefully annexed so much of the county already, people would not have to go into the city. Times have changed, if cities can not survive without violating the citizens civil rights and freedoms, then they don't need to survive. Quit wasting money, stop serving yourselves, and serve the people that elected you for a change. Stop your free, expensive tax payer funded vacations that you disguise as “fact finding missions”. The last one was $6,000.00+ that benefited no one but yourselves. These meetings can be done online with equipment you already own and the citizens pay for, without leaving town. And if you really spent $700,000.00 on an annexation plan, you should be prosecuted for fraud, and removed from office permanently. Hopefully that money wasn't really spent, you just said that because the new law disrupted your plans. If you did spend this money, then that is why you have money problems. There are city employees that already get paid that could have gathered all the information you needed, without spending (giving away) an additional $700,000.00. Get a grip, quit talking out of both sides of your mouth, quit with the self-serving lawsuits that waste even more tax dollars, and do what you were elected to do, serve the people, not yourselves. The Mongol Hordes we can study in history books are an interesting read, but this is not how modern day cities should model their business plans.


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