Houston County residents fight annexation — again

chwright@macon.comNovember 18, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Deja vu hit Ken Ford last month when he checked his mailbox.

There was a letter informing him the city of Warner Robins intended to annex his property. He’d seen it before. Last year, in fact.

“What has changed in 12 months?” Ford questioned. “What is different now than 12 months ago when we were down there five weeks in a row fighting this?”

Ford’s property is among 22 that City Council will decide Monday whether to bring into the city. He and at least one other property owner have previously fought and won a battle against annexation.

City Attorney Jim Elliott wrote in an e-mail that his office submitted a list to mayor and council of all properties eligible for annexation. Elliott stated some properties, such as Ford’s, were previously passed over for annexation.

“This is a new council, and it has the authority to make its own decision, notwithstanding what a prior council chose to do,” Elliott wrote.

During the past few years, City Council has aggressively pursued properties that have signed utilities covenants with the city.

The agreements, some made without the knowledge of current owners, allowed the properties to be connected to city utilities with the understanding the property could be forced into the city when it became contiguous to city land.

The 22 properties council is considering Monday have such covenants, Elliott stated. Council is also reviewing a property that has a cell tower, which is a Houston County island among city property.

Ford and his three Carter Woods West neighbors fought annexation of their property last year because their houses are in the back of a 100-home county subdivision. No others could be annexed.

They argued annexation would create service delivery problems, most notably with emergency response.

“Go back past those 30 houses. I’m back here,” Ford said of his future directions to 911 if annexed. “I know that sounds sarcastic, but it’s confusing when you tuck four houses in the back of a neighborhood.”

For that reason, council members removed the Carter Woods West residences from a sweeping annexation ordinance in October 2011.

Ford said he and his neighbors, including ones not facing annexation, have been contacting council members to plead their case once again.

Councilman Mike Davis, one of three new members on council, said he doesn’t want to make a decision ahead of the precouncil meeting, which begins at 4 p.m. The council meeting, where council will vote, will follow precouncil.

“I’m going to be open-minded, and we’re going to talk about it, then we’ll make a decision,” Davis said.

Ford said he and his neighbors will be there.

“We’ll be happy to come down there, but not one single fact has changed,” Ford said. “So what is there to debate any differently?”

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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