Salisbury Council Moving Forward With Annexation

SALISBURY — The Salisbury City Council agreed to move forward this week with the process of annexing more than a dozen properties into city limits, though final approval will not occur until after a public hearing.

The three members of the council present at Monday’s work session did condition their acceptance of annexation, however, in that the properties will have to agree to pay property taxes and not to develop residentially if they want to be part of Salisbury.

The string of 15 properties are located east of Salisbury and south of Route 50 between the Routes 113 and 50 interchange east to Walston Switch Road. About half of the properties asked in their pre-annexation agreement to be excluded from property taxes unless the parcel of land is sold, transferred or if the owners ask to be connected to city water and sewer. After several weeks of consideration, the council decided that it would require all of the properties eligible for property taxes to pay them as soon as they become part of the city.

A number of the properties have already asked to connect to water and sewer, noted Council President Terry Cohen.

“Although some of the properties petitioned to be exempt from taxes until certain development events, most have already had those events take place, including one of the small properties labeled ‘vacant,’ but which has actually had stormwater development done,” she said.

Even with those properties that have yet to reach that stage, Cohen asserted that there will still likely be a need for police and fire coverage, which presents a direct cost to Salisbury that would not be covered if they weren’t paying property taxes. On the plus side to the properties, she added, annexation into the city would “add a heightened value to the property” that should make the refusal of tax exemption easier to stomach.

Council Vice President Debbie Campbell said that she was “close” to being totally satisfied with the situation.

“I think, as far as I’m concerned, I’m really close to being ready to do this,” she said. “And for me the issue is the taxes because once you’re annexed there’s an expectation that we will provide police and fire services and so forth and we have seen what old behavior has reaped as far as us being able to provide those services and we have to break that habit.”

The third member of the council present, Tim Spies, agreed with Cohen and Campbell that the properties should not be exempted.

The second condition that the council attached to the annexation is that all of the properties agree not to develop residentially, which would be in keeping with the city’s comprehensive plan, according to Cohen. The council also voted to move forward with a request from the Moore property, which is spearheading the annexation process, to begin the process establishing a Planned Development District (PDD) for the area, which is meant to encourage the co-operative development of properties in accordance with a comprehensive plan.

Finally, in a 3-0 vote, the council decided to waive the Moore property’s portion of advertising costs for the annexation. That property was the only to request a pass on paying their share of ad costs in their pre-annexation agreement, which will amount to about $60. The city will pick up the tab.

A public hearing will be held so that residents will have the opportunity to discuss the possible annexation.

“Council doesn’t make its final decision until it has heard from the public and takes the required votes at the legislative table,” said Cohen.