Lake Junaluska merger bill racks up endorsements

Elected government leaders in Haywood County have lined up behind a state bill to add Lake Junaluska to Waynesville’s town limits.

In a show of solidarity, every town board in the county has passed a resolution backing the state bill. So has the board of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. 

Leaders from the town of Waynesville and Lake Junaluska appealed to county commissioners this week and successfully collected their endorsement as well.

The merger has been floated in Raleigh twice before, but was sidelined by enigmatic political forces.

This time, the bill has an added assurance aimed at quelling lingering reservations by state lawmakers: a formal vote of both Lake Junaluska residents and Waynesville residents would be required to sanctify the merger.

“We added a component that may have been self-evident to begin with. Both communities have to be supportive of this,” Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown explained to commissioners.

The election would be held in November.

The 775-home community of Lake Junaluska is currently not part of a town, but the majority of residents and property owners have signaled support for merging with Waynesville.

The town would not only add to its property tax base, but also benefit by adding a stable of well-educated, affluent residents to its population base.

In exchange for paying town property taxes, Lake Junaluska residents would divest themselves of providing public services like trash pick-up and escape the burden of looming water and sewer line repairs.  

— By Becky Johnson, Staff writer

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