Woodfin Town Council shoots down de-annexation request

STAYING POWER: Woodfin Town Council voted 6-0 April 16 to oppose a de-annexation effort by hundreds of its west-side residents. Photo courtesy of Woodfin

About six months after Chip Parton approached the Woodfin Town Council with a petition signed by almost 200 residents of the town’s west side requesting de-annexation from town limits, the town has decided. Council members don’t support the effort.

Council members voted 6-0 on April 16 to oppose the request, which bubbled up after the town implemented a stormwater fee last summer to comply with the state-issued permit it was in danger of violating. Several residents thought the fee was unfair, and it renewed gripes among westsiders who say they never wanted to live inside town limits in the first place. The area was annexed by Woodfin in 2006.

Unlike annexation, the power to de-annex lies with the General Assembly, according to state law. State Sen. Julie Mayfield and Rep. Caleb Rudow said at a community meeting Feb. 1 that they will only support a de-annexation bill if the town and community agree that part of the town should go.

Complaints from residents on the town’s west side say they don’t receive the same level of services as those on the east side, which Town Manager Shannon Tuch disputes.

“An examination of the concerns expressed by the residents concluded that town services have been provided to the area beginning in 2007 when the annexation became effective and that west Woodfin residents receive all the same services that other residents receive, without exception,” Tuch said at the meeting.

Those services include trash and recycling pickup, police protection and zoning enforcement, she said. Notably, they do not include maintenance of water and sewer infrastructure, which many west Woodfin residents don’t have access to, despite living less than a mile from both the independent Woodfin Water District and the Metropolitan Sewerage District. Residents use private wells and septic systems instead.

Town Council member Eric Edgerton made the motion to pass a resolution opposing the request and wrote an opinion piece for Xpress explaining his position. (Read the full commentary at avl.mx/dm1)

In that commentary, Edgerton argued that the stormwater fee was designed to be equitable, and the town couldn’t afford to risk continually accruing fines from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality for noncompliance.

On the other complaints, Edgerton said the fact that a large majority of residents who attended a Feb. 1 community listening session on the de-annexation request said they would want to leave the town even if it was able to secure water and sewer service for them shows that there is nothing the town can do to satisfy them.

The town did loosen its manufactured housing rules in March, allowing residents, including those on the west side, to install single-wide trailers on their property, something Parton and others had been pursuing.

“The town has already taken steps to address the residents’ concerns, including changing the zoning as they requested,” Mayfield said April 17. “The town has also requested permission to wrap the stormwater fee into the property tax bill, which will increase the rate of collection and therefore allow them to reduce the fee. I will introduce that bill next week. The town also continues to explore options, funding and working with the necessary partners to extend water.  I have encouraged them to help residents who have stormwater and septic issues find and direct resources as they can.  So there is more work to be done to address the residents’ concerns,” she said.

Mayfield encouraged residents to stay engaged with the town and work with officials to make improvements. She plans to check in with residents ahead of the 2025 legislative session to see how things are going.

Parton said signers of his petition represent nearly 300 properties west of the river, and many still aren’t satisfied with the town. He said they were promised a second community meeting before the town voted on the issue, which never happened, and argued that the town would have gotten more engagement had it given more notice for the February meeting, which had about 40 attendees.

Regardless, he says he’ll keep an eye on things to ensure residents of the west side are treated fairly.


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4 thoughts on “Woodfin Town Council shoots down de-annexation request

    • Robert

      To be fair, they should have tried to check out (or vote en mass) the past two decades. I think this new council is doing good things and deserves a bit of time and benefit of doubt.

      • Chip

        This is at least the third attempt at a de-annexation, it was just the most public. Mayfield and Rudow are the fourth and fifth reps to be alerted to how miserable the residents are, behind Moffitt, Ager, and Turner previously.

        Edgerton’s comment about nothing being able to satisfy residents, but still voting down the de-annex is highly disturbing. I can’t help but feel that he’s saying “even if we tried to help with utilities you’d still want to leave, so we won’t even bother”. He’s free to clarify if that’s a misinterpretation.

        • luther blissett

          Edgerton’s long explanation is linked from this piece. It should clarify your questions.

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