Tryon annexation meeting draws smaller crowd, less opposition than last year

Published 10:14 am Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tryon Town Council held its question and answer meeting on Tuesday for the town&squo;s proposed involuntary annexation of 638 acres and 406 residents (205 total homes) mostly in the Gillette Woods area of Tryon Township.

The meeting drew 90 people and 15 speakers who questioned the plan. Last year&squo;s meeting on the now rescinded plan&bsp; drew about 200 people and 30 speakers.

The mood was much different on Tuesday as well, with fewer outbursts from the audience and fewer expressions of anger directed at the town council.

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The other big difference from last year was that council members spoke this year. They didn&squo;t generally answer questions, but last year they were completely silent because of a pending lawsuit against the annexation. Councilman Dennis Durham on Tuesday invited residents to call him at home with any questions.

Officials on Tuesday said this annexation could be up for approval on April 29. The public hearing on the plan is scheduled for April 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Tryon Elementary School Auditorium.

Council also said it could wait until later to make the annexation effective on July 1, 2009, the start of the town&squo;s fiscal year. The annexation would be effective one year after it is approved.

Earlier this year Tryon decided to rescind its previous annexation plan, which would have involuntarily annexed some of the same properties as the new plan, but also much of Lynn, which is not in the current plan.

Several factors, including council&squo;s willingness to talk at annexation meetings this time, could be affecting the tone of the meetings and the level of opposition to the current plan. Some residents in the new area say they are not opposed to the plan because they live so close to the city limits and already feel they live in Tryon. Many residents of the Lynn area said they identify more with Lynn than with Tryon.

Another change this year also is new councilman Austin Chapman, whose platform included his opposition to forced annexation. His presence gives opponents of the annexation some representation on town council.

Chapman has publicly said he is against the town&squo;s new plan. He has questioned some of the figures and said some costs are not included. He asked on Tuesday why some of his corrections have not been added to the plan.

&dquo;The plan is badly flawed when it comes to the financing,&dquo; Chapman said Tuesday following resident&squo;s questions. &dquo;We do not have good data in this plan, I can assure you, and I think some of these people have pointed that out.&dquo;

The town has estimated that the annexation will net about $167,000 in revenue, compared to just $32,000 for the previous plan.

There are some town residents who still question the costs of the annexation and the morality of forcibly annexing neighbors.

However, most of the questions to officials Tuesday were focused on the low pressure sewer system being proposed to service much of the new area.

Editor&squo;s note: See Friday&squo;s Bulletin for an article on questions related to the sewer service.