Tryon Town Council rescinds annexation

Published 3:03 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A new majority on Tryon Town Council wasted little time taking advantage of its voting power and rescinded the town’s annexation Tuesday night.

Council member Austin Chapman made a motionto rescind the annexation shortly after newly elected council members Doug Arbogast and Wim Woody were sworn into officeand the motion was approved 3-1 with councilman Roy Miller opposing. Prior to Arbogast’s election and his recent decision to oppose the annexation, the council lacked the votes needed to rescind.

Chapman’s motion included the conditions that the town manager affirm there are no legal restrictions associated with rescinding the annexation as well as a condition that the town manager secure a settlement between the town and the litigants of the existing lawsuit that prevents any further legal actions or penalties. The town was sued by Citizens Against Forced Annexation (CAFA) shortly after moving ahead with the annexation ofareas around Gillette Woods, Country Club Road, Harmon Field and Hwy. 108 in Tryon Township.

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Many citizens were in attendance Tuesday night, although annexation was not initially on the town’s agenda. The issue was added to the agenda when the meeting began and council was given a standing ovation following the vote. Tuesday night’s votecomes after the town spent years and considerable money to move forward with two efforts to expand its borders. CAFA also sued the townover a previousattempt to annex much of the Lynn area, and eventually the town council, concerned that it might not prevail in court, rescinded that annexation.The town soon formulated a new annexation plan, but has faced continued resistance from CAFA and some residents in the township.

Chapman, Arbogast and Woody offered statements regarding their reasons for rescinding the annexation prior to their vote on Tuesday. Below are comments made by Woody and Chapman. Look for comments by Arbogast and additional coverage on the annexation decision later in the Bulletin.

Austin Chapman

Mr. Mayor, Councilmen:

Four years ago, expansion of the Towns corporate limits became a goal of the Town Council. Men of good faith reached the decision that involuntary annexation of adjacent neighborhoods was in the Towns best interest. Men and women most affected by this decision, also in good faith, concluded that forced annexation was not right and rose up in opposition and filed a legal suit. This action and reaction has replaced the community tranquility that once existed with bitter division, and untold time, energy and treasure have been expended in the ensuing battle. Today, the case still awaits it first trial test. Regardless of the outcome of that trial, the case will not likely be settled by this initial court action. Experience and good estimates forecast additional court appearances over several years to reach a final conclusion, and each of these appearances will be costly. Reason alone dictates that the Towns original cost/benefit curves have changed drastically over time and will continue to do so in a negative way. How much longer do we allow the damage to occur? When and where do we draw the stop line?

A new Town Council, also in good faith, has indicated publicly that they are not satisfied with the issue or the process. The following motion will provide the Council with the opportunity to address that dissatisfaction.

The Tryon Town Council rescinds the Ordinance to Extend the Corporate Limits of the Town of Tryon dated April 29, 2008 subject to the following conditions:

Condition 1: The Town Manager must affirm there are no legal restrictions to this action, and

Condition 2: The Town Manger must secure a settlement between the Town and the litigants of the existing law suit that prevents any further legal actions or penalties.

Mr. Mayor, I am prepared to discuss this motion further, or I am ready to vote. I do request that we do a roll call vote with individual comments or explanations, if desired.
Vote Explanation
In my opening remarks, I stated that the Town Council acted in the best interest of the Town. What I did not say was that the Council confused the Town of Tryon with the Tryon Government and its infrastructure. The Town of Tryon is the men and women who reside here, who work here, who shop here, and who visit here. I am not at all convinced that the Council acted in these citizenss best interest. Like many small towns, Tryon has problems, but in the citizens of Tryon lays great wisdom, talent, and ideas. We can solve those problems without forcing the burdens onto someone else. The Town is just starting a long-range planning process. This plan is the perfect vehicle to establish where we want to go and the path we want to follow. We need our citizens wisdom, talent and ideas to get it right. And, we need Tryon Township citizens as partners in this process, just as they are now partners in other areas. We can best achieve this goal by ending the conflict that engulfs us now. My vote is Yes to rescind the annexation ordinance.
Wim Woody

Over the course of the past several years as the phrase “involuntary

annexation” wormed its way into out local lexicon, I became increasingly

involved in opposition to this divisive issue.

My opposition began reluctantly at first, but with growing conviction in

support of those citizens of the Township who felt they were being

unfairly singled out for providing the Town of Tryon with tax revenue

against their will while being denied the fundamental right to vote. I

chose to take a public position against this unjust annexation law,

speaking out at public hearings and working in support of those in

opposition to the past two town councils. As this process unwound, it

ultimately led to review by the Judicial System, ending up in law suits

brought against the Town. This is not the way I would have chosen to be

represented by my local government. I believe in open and honest

discussion and consensus building, not dissention and divisiveness. I

believe the past two town councils woefully underestimated the

opposition’s determination and in doing so seriously split our community

over this issue. I believe that the power of government derives from the

consent of the governed. I also believe that North Carolina’s

involuntary annexation statutes do not include the consent of the

governed and therefore are flawed when implemented by local governments.

I believe we will see changes in these laws at the state level in the

near future, and the citizens of Tryon can be proud of their

contributions to these changes.

Ultimately I chose to run for Town Council two years ago, losing by four

votes. During the ensuing two years I chose to continue my support in

opposition to this issue, culminating in my recent election as the

highest vote getter to this new council, replacing an incumbent

councilman who was pro-annexation throughout this entire process.

I believe the residents of Tryon clearly spoke in the recent election,

removing both pro-annexation incumbents, replacing them with Doug

Arbogast & myself. I take the results of this election seriously.

Therefore, Mr. Chairman, in keeping with my long-stated opposition to

the issue of forced annexation, with pride & humility, I cast my vote in

support of this motion to rescind the Town of Tryon’s current

involuntary annexation ordinance.