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Gas station annexation approved in Franklin

franklinPlans for a new gas station on the outskirts of Franklin will be moving ahead now that the town board approved a satellite annexation for the property.

Not all board members agreed with the decision to allow for the annexation at 44 Lowery Road off of U.S. 441. Alderman Verlin Curtis voted against the annexation, claiming it went against a policy the town passed unanimously in 2011. 

“Are we not going against our annexation policy to do this?” he asked. “Should we not consider that before we vote on annexation?”

Town Attorney John Henning Jr. said the board did have a similar annexation petition in 2011 for a piece of property that wanted to be developed and wanted to be annexed into the town so it could sell alcohol. At that time, the board amended its policy to say it would not consider satellite annexations for businesses when the primary motivation was to sell alcohol. Henning said the current petition from the convenience store included plans for an inside restaurant as well, which would generate revenue. 

“The board is not bound by policy — it’s not an ordinance,” he said. 

Alderwoman Joyce Handley agreed that she didn’t think alcohol was the primary motivation behind the annexation request. 

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Resident Angela Moore, who is also running for the town board, was the only person to voice concerns about the annexation during the public hearing. She questioned whether such an annexation would actually benefit the residents of the town and generate revenue. 

“It’s very far away from the town. I do want to ask the board to give serious consideration to it,” she said. “I have no problem with development — there’s definitely a financial incentive for the people who own the property — but will it come at a cost for the town?”

Steve Isaacs, president of Pioneer Petroleum Company, requested the annexation back in January and the town had to ask the North Carolina General Assembly to relax certain annexation requirements before the property could even be eligible. State statute prohibits a satellite piece of property from being annexed into a town if it is part of a subdivision — the entire subdivision would have to be annexed. 

The Lowery Lane property is technically located within a subdivision, but Isaacs argued that the Longwood Acres subdivision covenants expired 20 years ago and that the land usage is more mixed now. 

With the General Assembly’s approval to relax the restrictions, Henning said he would recommend moving forward with the request. He said the development would improve a vacant piece of property and add to the town’s revenue by providing sewer and water to the business. While he understands the town typically likes for businesses to develop in town, Henning said the company couldn’t find a suitable location inside the town limits. 

Curtis made a motion to keep the policy in place and therefore deny the annexation request, but no one seconded his motion. 

Handley’s motion to approve the annexation passed 4-1. Alderwoman Patty Abel was not present. 

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