Tryon moves ahead with new annexation plan

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, February 14, 2008

That&squo;s what some residents were saying Tuesday night as Tryon Town Council approved a resolution of intent for an involuntary annexation of sections of Gillette Woods and the Country Club Road and Harmon Field areas of Tryon Township.A standing-room-only crowd attended a short special meeting Tuesday at which council voted to begin the annexation process again with a new plan.The vote came just two weeks after Tryon rescinded its formerly approved annexation plan, which included some of the new plan&squo;s areas as well as much of Lynn. The current plan excludes Lynn and adds more of Gillette Woods to the annexation area.Council also approved meeting dates of Feb. 27 to present the annexation report, April 1 for the public informational meeting and April 16 for the public hearing. Those meetings are scheduled to be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Tryon Fine Arts Center. Benchmark CMR, Inc. was officially hired on Tuesday to provide surveying and study services at rates of $128 per hour for project manager services, $95 per hour for project planning and $85 per hour for project GIS coordination.Council member Austin Chapman was the sole &uot;no&uot; vote on the plan Tuesday. He also made a motion for the town to include a line item in the budget for annexation expenses so the town can track the spending. That motion was approved. Prior to the vote, Chapman asked council not to vote for the annexation.&uot;Before voting tonight on this resolution of intent to forcibly annex our neighbors, I would ask you to consider the oath of office we each have taken,&uot; said Chapman. &uot;If there ever was a case illustrating the Constitution&squo;s concern for the rights of individual citizens against the arbitrary abuse of government power, this resolution of intent to annex is a classic example. No public need has ever been established to warrant this action.&uot;Chapman said there is an old saying, &uot;when principle is involved, be deaf to expediency.&uot;&uot;Gentlemen, there are critical Constitutional principles involved in this decision,&uot; Chapman said. &uot;Whatever Tryon&squo;s needs are, they pale in comparison to these principles. I ask you to be deaf to expediency, to make our case of need known to the public, to examine all other opportunities to meet those needs, and finally, if no other option exists, to seek the consent of those we wish to govern. Nothing less is acceptable for governments.&uot;His comments received heavy applause, and some audience members stood to express their approval.Chapman also asked Benchmark&squo;s land surveyor, John McHenry, several questions pertaining to what work has already been done and if a contract was previously entered. McHenry answered that he was contacted in Aug., 2007 and that he didn&squo;t enter into a contract but was under the direction of the former town manager (Jim Fatland). He said work on the current annexation plans was done in December, 2007.A group of citizens filed a lawsuit against Tryon over the town&squo;s previous annexation plan. After researching, the town felt that there was a chance of losing the case. The town spent more than $22,000 on attorney fees for the lawsuit. The town&squo;s total expenditures for the rescinded plan are still unknown. At one point the town announced it had spent approximately $60,000 on studies, surveys, etc. for the rescinded plan, and that was prior to the lawsuit being filed.

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