To the Editor:
The column by Editor Scott McLeod two weeks ago taking after Rep. Michelle Presnell, R-Burnsville, for stopping the annexation —involuntary annexation to many property owners — seems to rely on the false premise that local bills result in the legislative process being turned over to a couple of legislators with the rest of the body laying over as if brain dead. Your opinion also seems to be based on the assumption that the involuntary annexation of several hundred parcels of land is a typical subject for the type of local bill you pine.
North Carolina has a statute for voluntary annexation. Those in favor of annexation at the lake did not follow that process because the statute provides that a single no vote ends the process. That statute gives clear indication of the level of property rights that the state gives owners of real property when it comes to annexation.
Given that level of rights, it is not only appropriate but fair that the rights of property owners not be subjected to an end around of a local bill to override the property rights established by law. The legislature can annex over objection and that is the process those seeking annexation took, hoping that the legislature would not take a look at the protests of property owners against annexation.That is where Rep. Presnell came in to provide the opportunity for those of us against annexation to be heard.
The suggestion that Rep. Presnell single-handedly stopped annexation is just not factually correct. That suggestion is also an insult to the rest of the legislators in the House. Rep. Presnell played an important role but never claimed to have the authority to stop annexation on her own. Her attention to the bill was appropriate and she did an excellent job of bringing the faults of the bill to the attention of fellow House members. We thank her for her good work.
Members of the House Finance Committee were provided much information from both sides of the question. The committee process of the legislative process was allowed to work. The bill which affected the real property rights of so many was not treated like a local bill to rename a bridge or recognize a local citizen for an outstanding act. No, this bill had two very vocal sides and both were considered.
The suggestion has been aired that the town of Waynesville has agreed to take over the responsibility of a now $10 million problem regarding water and sewer lines at Lake Junaluska. There are questions that such a suggestion raises:
• How can the taxpayers of Waynesville be expected to fund such generosity on the part of the town leaders?
• Where did the $10 million figure come from and where is the support for the number? (The figure started at somewhere just over $1 million and continues to grow without any support or study.)
• Why was the Junaluska Sewer District never studied as an alternative to annexation? (After all, the water and sewer pipes seemed to be the driving force/argument for annexation.)
There is much more to the annexation saga but space is a constraint. The surveys are a topic calling for long discussion. The bottom line is that the process followed was flawed from start to end ... that and other subjects will be left for another day if further discussion is necessary.
In summary, the editorial is an insult to the legislative process. The complaint seems to be that the legislative process worked. Trying to take the result which some are disappointed with and put it all on a single representative falls well short of the usually well thought out journalism that we have seen in the SMN news in the past (your work regarding the hospital situation in the Rice days was outstanding).
Rep. Presnell and all members of the House of Representatives who considered the issue did just what the legislative process calls for and reached a decision. As property owners in the Lake Junaluska area, we thank them for their deliberations and work.