"NO" to proposed Royal Pines Annexation

During this time of a fragile economy, a time of unprecedented double-dip recession, Asheville City Council has proposed to annex our hard working, middle-class Royal Pines neighborhood to supplement its budget.

This would essentially double Royal Pines' resident taxes. Raising taxes is a less efficient way to fix our economy. The city needs to prioritize its budget just like the rest of us.

There are about 15 million Americans looking for work. According to a recent article I read in the [Asheville] Citizen-Times, “There are 1,452 homes in foreclosure in Buncombe County, and the number continues to skyrocket.”

Most residents of Royal Pines are outraged and disgusted with the city's proposed annexation. If enacted, this will only continue to add to our residents' economic oppression. And, this approach will be of no economic value to Royal Pines residents.

It's a lose-lose situation for the city and Royal Pines. Please back off.

I am canvassing the neighborhood with a petition against [the] proposed annexation — to an overwhelming response. And more are getting involved.

I have listened to our residents' economic hardships and struggles. We all stand against the city's proposal.

For those who want to sign our Petition and want more info, please visit: ardenannex.blogspot.com.

— Belle Reina
Arden

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34 thoughts on “"NO" to proposed Royal Pines Annexation

  1. Clyde Hunnicutt

    Hostile annexation is illegal in 47 of the 50 United States. That says it all. The city obviously just wants more property tax money. Hostile annexation is WRONG. You’d think a friendly, “progressive” town like Asheville would NOT takeover county residents without their consent. It’s actually akin to the imperialism that used to happen on the international level.

  2. Joseph B. Malki

    In a democracy the will of the people presumably has a place in decision making. I believe the city council members have ignored this principle and seek to enlargen thier coffers and political power. Involuntary annexation says it all. Keywords: “insensitive”, “leaders”, “disrespect”. “totalitarian”…guess I will be more active this next election.

  3. While I agree that involuntary annexation is troubling, it really needs to be viewed in context.

    (This has all been said before, but it bears repeating.)

    Unlike any other city in NC, Asheville is prevented from charging more for water outside city limits. That differential alone encourages voluntary annexation in other metropolitan areas. We are constrained by the General Assembly.

    Asheville collects 75 percent of the sales tax paid in Buncombe County, but receives 18 percent of the money returned from Raleigh.
    We are constrained by the County and the General Assembly.

    Other cities garner revenue from room taxes. All room taxes collected here go to the Tourism and Development Board. We are constrained by the General Assembly.

    What the involuntary annexation law does is permit cities to annex adjacent areas that become substantially urbanized, principally due to density. People who live near a city gain great benefit from city amenities without paying for them (and, in fact, often work in the adjacent city). They contribute to traffic congestion and accidents, the need for emergency services, trash generated downtown or at work, and avail themselves of city events: Bele Chere, the Christmas parade, Shindig, Goombay, Downtown After Five, UNCA concerts on the quad, Mountain Sports Festival, Civic Center events, and on and on. All things that are made possible or available by city funding or simply the urban community.

    If Asheville were surrounded by rivers like NYC, I suppose we could simply install toll bridges to get out-of-towners to help subsidize the wonderful things a city brings to users. But that isn’t practical here. As it is, we follow the rules. When an area fits the General Assembly mandated prescription for annexation, we annex.

    Best estimates are that the net increase for Royal Pines residents will be $325 on an average home, and that doesn’t account for the reduction in fire insurance rates when city fire protection kicks in. You are getting a royal bargain.

  4. GoodGrief

    Cecil posts a logical argument. The little “communities” around Asheville that rest on their laurels and feel special, like Royal Pines, and feel like they don’t need to contribute to the city of Asheville need to come down from their high horse and join reality. Stop living in your dream world Royal Pines, you’re no better than anyone else and don’t deserve special treatment. ANNEX!!!!

  5. Clyde Hunnicutt

    That is complete bull, Cecil. So you and the other Council members are doing this because you want to “help” Royal Pines? I think you’re looking for more tax money in a recession. People are having a hard enough time financially without “progressive” Asheville City imperialism. And, for instance, what of you new tax proposals for things like rural outskirts sidewalks? Do you think people in South Asheville will want to pay for sidewalks in haw Creek? How about your bike lanes? I doubt it.

    If this hostile takeover annexation is such a good deal for the residents, PUT IT TO A VOTE! Simple, and democratic.

  6. Johnny

    Clyde, how would the vote go if it was about paying vs. not paying the full price for services received? Would Royal Pines residents still vote no, feeling they really don’t need to pay full and fair value? Just curious.

  7. Myrtle Mike

    Johnny, “full price for services received”? How do you figure folks outside Asheville city limits are receiving services? This is America. Like the top post says, 47 other states say this is illegal. Yet North Carolina allows this, technically, but it sure doesn’t make it right. A blind man could see the only reason the city is annexing Royal Pines is because they want the tax money. I bet these same “progressives” complain that corporation are greedy. It is clear the City Council is the greedy one here. Clyde is right. Put it to a vote of the residents and see if they want to be annexed. My guess is the residents don’t want Cecil and Gordon raising their taxes for gay city workers partner benefit packages and other pet projects.

  8. Johnny

    North Carolina has a different set of laws, Myrtle. I’m not professing to know the ins and outs of them nor of this situation in particular —- but it is WAY more balanced in reality than a simple scream of bloody murder take-over by the big mean city. Looking forward to learning more, and open to all sides.

  9. Cecil, if we can not charge differential rates on water, then can we just raise water rates for all users and use the extra revenue to lower city resident’s taxes. Then people will want to be annexed, Maybe. This will also serve as a catalyst for people conserving water.

  10. If only ’twere so. But the other legislative constraint we face is that the water system has to be revenue neutral. So we can’t “profit” from water.

  11. Johnny, “Clyde” and “Myrtle” have this same tack on everything. It is one person that has the talent of managing 100’s of gmail accounts to represent his various online monikers. It will not take long to smell him out, once you do, make sure not to make eye contact and he will go away. Some key identifiers to look for: He hates yankees, hates meat-eaters, and will often compliment one of his other identities.

  12. Dang Cecil I was afraid that simple and logical might not work. How can we change the legislation?

  13. Margaret Williams

    JMAC etc Please stay on topic. whoever you are (or aren’t).

  14. Margaret Williams etc

    I believe the water issue is on topic about annexing royal pines.

    But I do appreciate you trying to keep the thread on topic.

    PS: I live in the city and I do not want to annex Royal Pines because in the end I think that it will actually raise my taxes.

  15. Margaret Williams

    Thank you, JMAC, for your reply: To be more specific, the post about trolls & various “online monikers” was what veered away.

    The water issue… is as deep as the Gulf of Mexico.

  16. dickyfauge

    The HOSTILE takeover of the smaller comunitys is wrong and should be illegal. jmac is right, it will always raise the taxes, cause thats what the liberels do best. Jmacs argumint for changing the law is excellant. And to you Mrs. Williams I say the main reason we are here is to butt heads so to speak and run our ideas up the flag pole and see what comes back down. There aint nobody a cussin or threatning and you pought to let us be. Unless you want to throw in your 2 cents worth and dominite the forums and censsip anybodey who disagree with you. Yes we are here because we want to argue our points as best we can and you are foolin yourself if you think we are here for any other reaqson!

  17. bobaloo

    Good Lord mods:

    “dickyfauge” and “clyde” (and probably “onewhoknows”) are the SAME PERSON namely Cullen Anderson/namvet.
    You moderate people who’ve been here for years yet have are completely clueless when the blog is being trolled by the same idiot.

  18. luther blissett

    If this hostile takeover annexation is such a good deal for the residents, PUT IT TO A VOTE! Simple, and democratic.

    As long as the current residents of the city who currently subsidize the county commuters are part of that vote, right? That’s only fair.

    This is a complicated issue, because you have the obvious ongoing dynamic of development just outside the city limits, but with access to city water/sewer services, fueled by the property tax differential. To many city residents, that looks parasitic – Asheville living on the cheap – especially given the tax distribution scheme set by Raleigh.

    On the other hand, the city’s “value-added” services are distributed in an uneven way, which comes from neglect long predating the current Council, and can’t be addressed quickly or cheaply. Residents of Royal Pines are going to look at their neighbors within the city limits and wonder what the city has done for them lately, compared to downtown and West Asheville. (Residents who get the most benefit pay more because the benefits accrue to their property valuations, but that’s hard to see on the ground.)

    I’m more sympathetic to the Royal Pines residents than those in “Biltmore” Lake, and think that the annexation criteria should take into account the age of the community as well as the density, but the way to object to annexation is to start caring about the decisions made in Raleigh as much as you do the ones in Asheville and DC.

  19. Margaret Williams

    bobaloo, JMAC etc Thanks for the comment, pointers about who’s a troll, etc, but it is nonetheless important to be civil. That’s in our policy, and all our moderators apply it (not just me).

    And FYI: dickyfrauge has been moved to moderated status. On-topic posts that send your opinions up the flagpole, as you say, are one thing. A refusal to be civil is another. There’s no need to get personal.

    An issue like annexation is thick and heavy enough. I do not “throw my 2 cents” in because in theory, as a journalist, I keep my personal opinion about annexation to myself. Having covered the City Council beat from 1994-2002, however, I know enough to see both sides, from member Bothwell’s points to the residents affected by the annexation. Both sides should be respected.

  20. Agnes Cheek

    “People who live near a city gain great benefit from city amenities without paying for them”
    Are you serious? So we get our water for free? We get sewer for free? We get garbage pickup, fire protection, police protection for free? We don’t pay taxes either? Cecil I will send you the bill for all my “free” services. Under your logic everyone, including tourists and people in other states should be annexed as well!

  21. Betty

    GoodGrief and Luther, you are missing the big picture. What’s not being mentioned in this thread is how cities BENEFIT from having unincorporated suburbs and rural areas. Go to the other MtnX article and read its comments:

    http://www.mountainx.com/opinion/2010/092210proposed-annexation-puts-city-profits-before-people/

    JMAC, if you’d like to see a change in the laws in NC regarding forced annexation, please join us! We have a growing coalition of annexation law reformers statewide and here in Buncombe Co. Go to http://www.StopWoodfin.org and you’ll find the contact link. Other links & info there too. Needs a few updates, but it’s good.

    There is nothing remotely fair or democratic about FORCED annexation. We do have voluntary annexation laws in the state. Why doesn’t the city actually make itself so attractive that people want to be a part of it?

  22. luther blissett

    Under your logic everyone, including tourists and people in other states should be annexed as well!

    And under your logic, people who live in the county near the city limits wouldn’t notice or care if the city vanished off the face of the earth. (But that’s a topic better suited to the C-T boards.)

  23. Betty

    Luther, the Biltmore Lake Community situation is very interesting. When the property was being developed, the developer approached the city of Asheville to see if it would be interested in investing in some of the infrastructure. NO, said the city.

    So the developer pays for the infrastructure, and passes on the cost to the homeowners. Services are set in place and the homeowners pay for everything they receive.

    THEN the city council decides, once everything is bought and paid for, to forcibly annex this community. The city will have to provide NOTHING for these residents.

    This is a very clear-cut example of the city pursuing forced annexation only so they can tax the residents and not provide services.

    This is the bottom line for the city – increased tax revenue to fund their endless and mismanaged spending sprees.

  24. Meredith Eugene Hunt

    Here’s an example of government incompetence, in particular Asheville city incompetence: the new concrete sidewalks going in along Tunnel Road near Groce Methodist church. The concrete is not being cured. Not a bit. The sidewalks, with their indicative white appearance, will last nowhere as long as they should. Within a few years, they will begin cracking and flaking. Properly mixed and cured concrete (a minimum of seven days, much better, 28 days) will last hundreds of years. (The concrete should be covered in plastic or sprayed with a sealant as soon as possible after it is installed so that “hydration” can occur.) This kind of incompetence is endemic in government that has lost its moral footing.

  25. Betty

    One very important aspect of the Biltmore Lake Community’s situation that I talked about above —

    When the developer asked the city about infrastructure during the development phase, he said he would VOLUNTARILY annex the property to the city if they helped with infrastructure. That’s when the city said NO. Then after all was paid for by (Cecil’s so-called) outsiders that’s when the city decided to forcibly annex the community. When the city wouldn’t have to provide a dime, but would tax, tax, tax.

  26. Beth Rytz

    I own property in Royal Pines neighborhood and am opposed to the annexation. I purposly purchased property out side the city limits because I wanted to live out side the citys grasp.

    According to Cecil Bothwell’s comment below a MountainXpress article (“NO” to proposed Royal Pines Annexation by Belle Reina in Vol. 17 / Iss. 09 on 09/21/2010), “People who live near a city gain great benefit from city amenities without paying for them”. He couldn’t be more wrong. The last time I went into the city, I filled the gas tank, I bought 3 movie tickets at the Fine Arts Theater, dropped a handfull of coins into the parking meter, paid for three meals at Salsa’s Restaurant, and made purchases in Mast General Store. Dinner and a movie are luxury items at my house, and if Royal Pines gets annexed, there goes the entertainment budget! What do the business owners in the city think of that?

    Regarding Cecils comment “I suppose we could simply install toll bridges to get out-of-towners to help subsidize the wonderful things a city brings to users”. If you do that, the people who spend money in the city’s business’s will not be spending money in the city’s business’s any longer. Cecil: your forced annexation of Royal Pines will serve as your toll bridge, and I will not cross it.

  27. JWTJr

    Based on Cecil’s logic, the annexing will never stop. The city’s border will expand out endlessly to make sure no one is ‘getting things for free’.

    Its the Free Police from now on.

  28. JWTJr,
    Actually, the expansion of cities in NC is regulated by state law. All I’ve been doing here is explaining the pro-annexation side of the argument.

    Somewhere way up thread I pointed out that taken on its own, I oppose involuntary annexation. Most of the rest of my comments (minus some digressions) have been to explain the rationale for using to the rules the state has handed us to level the playing field for current City residents.

  29. “bobaloo, JMAC etc Thanks for the comment, pointers about who’s a troll, etc, but it is nonetheless important to be civil. That’s in our policy, and all our moderators apply it (not just me)”

    Margaret I apologize if I came across as lacking civility, my comment was intended to be more tongue in cheek, I must admit that I slightly enjoy the “Where is Namvet” game.

    On topic
    Betty’s comment about Biltmore Lake annexation is a good point about infrastructure. Selfishly I was in favor of the Biltmore Lake annexation, mostly because the infrastructure is modern and would require less investment from city dollars while on the other hand Royal Pines with it’s older infrastructure might need upgrades immediately. This may be a foolish concern of mine, because it appears that the city does little to maintain neighborhood infrastructure that is 1/2 a mile from the city center, so it is probably unlikely that they will maintain a suburban neighborhood. In all cases I wish that there was a way to charge differential rates, because I really do not like forced annexation.

  30. Agnes Cheek

    37% of all government revenues are generated in asheville for buncombe county, but 51% of Buncombe county’s expenditures are spent on the city of Asheville, so who the “burden” on who? (trust but verify)

  31. Margaret Williams

    Thank you, JMAC. I apologize for not knowing it’s a game…

    Cecil, wasn’t the opportunity for differential water rates, etc., nixed long ago by the Sullivan Act?

  32. Agnes Cheek

    “Oh, I could spend my life having this conversation – look – please try to understand before one of us dies” :)
    The biggest point, and I realize how far from that I have gotten is please JUST LET US VOTE! Let us vote on what happens to our property and livlihoods! We can’t vote for you city council, but you can come tell us how we use our own property without actually providing services we dont already have and pay for. Please, Just alet Us Vote!
    Thank you.

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