Columbus denies Ashley Meadows annexation

Published 3:42 pm Friday, December 16, 2011

Motion to annex dies without second

Ashley Meadows at White Oak will not become a part of the Town of Columbus despite recent pleas from residents who said they need lower water bills.

Columbus Town Council met Thursday, Dec. 15 and denied a request to voluntarily annex the low-income housing development located just outside town off Hwy. 108. Councilman Richard Hall made a motion to annex the property, but the motion died for lack of a second.

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No comments were offered by council members or Columbus Mayor Eric McIntyre as to why the council denied the petition.

Columbus held a public hearing in November at which several residents of Ashley Meadows spoke and said they can no longer afford the water rates Columbus charges for customers outside town limits. The town has lower water and sewer rates for customers inside town limits than for those outside the town.

Ashley Meadows Property Manager April Lathan attended last week’s meeting and said she was there again to plead with council to annex the property so they can reduce utility bills for residents.

The only discussion that occurred during last week’s meeting was town manager Jonathan Kanipe saying he was mistaken that the property was contiguous to the town. Ashley Meadows is contiguous to the BP gas station property, which was a satellite, or non-contiguous annexation. Town attorney Bailey Nager said in order to be a contiguous annexation the property must connect to the main portion of the town.

The town would have gained revenues by annexing Ashley Meadows and added approximately 115 residents. The development would have paid town taxes if it had been annexed, which were estimated at $7,025 annually. The town would have lost money in its water and sewer department by offering lower inside rates, but including state revenues for the increased population, the town’s net gain was estimated at approximately $12,000 per year.

Columbus has also denied two annexation requests from the restaurant Giardini Trattoria and Catering Co., which is located along Hwy. 108 between Columbus and Mill Spring.

Some town council members have said in the past that Columbus residents say they do not want the town to grow and that’s their reason for denying voluntary annexation requests.