The town of Carrboro grew Tuesday night by 321 acres and about 850 mostly angry people.
The Board of Aldermen voted 5-2 to extend the town limits to the northeast by annexing a block of territory encompassing six subdivisions -- Camden, The Highlands, Highlands North, Highland Meadows, Fox Meadow and Meadow Run -- and a number of individual tracts on the west side of Rogers Road. The annexation will take effect Jan. 31, 2006.
Residents of those areas have been united in vehement opposition to the annexation from the moment the town initiated the process in September. Following Tuesday night's vote, several residents said they expected legal and political challenges to the decision.
"Some of us will address this in the courts," said Katrina Ryan, a resident of The Highlands. "Others will address it politically. ...You will see some of us lobbying in the General Assembly, because the state's forced annexation law is bad law."
The aldermen who voted for annexation acknowledged the hard feelings the decision has sparked among residents who say they have no desire to live in Carrboro. But, the aldermen said, their responsibility as leaders of the whole community left them little choice but to approve the measure.
Annexation, they said, will allow the town to grow in an orderly fashion and will spread the financial burden of paying for community needs among all those who benefit from them.
"When you sit in this chair, you can't evaluate these kinds of decisions based on what is best for one street or one neighborhood," Mayor Mike Nelson said. "You have to base those decisions on what is best for the community as a whole."
After the area is annexed, Carrboro will be obligated to provide the same services -- fire and police protection, street maintenance, trash pickup and so on -- it provides to the rest of town.
The residents of the annexed areas will be responsible for paying town taxes as well as the Orange County taxes they currently pay. At current rates, town staff estimated that the tax bill on a $250,000 house would go from $2,862 to $4,487.
The Board of Aldermen also took several steps to try to alleviate some of the concerns residents have voiced.
A portion of the annexed area is on septic systems, and the board voted to increase a town subsidy available to homeowners who want to hook up to the Orange Water and Sewer Authority sewer system from $1,000 to $2,000.
Many residents said they have no desire for streetlights, which the town normally installs in residential neighborhoods. The aldermen instructed town staff to draw up a system that would allow the annexed areas to opt out of the street light program.
And in response to a frequently voiced complaint that Carrboro has no fire station near the annexed areas, the board told staff to redouble its efforts to find a site for a long-planned fire substation in the northern part of town.
"We've been looking for six years," Nelson said. "It's been a really frustrating experience. I would support having staff continue its search until a certain point, and then after that let's seek property we can acquire under our power of eminent domain."
None of those measures were likely to placate the more firmly opposed residents. They said they intend to continue to fight.
"You will see a slate of candidates from the northern end of town," said Randolph Ryan of The Highlands. "I guarantee it. We will work diligently to mobilize the interests of the community and run campaigns to stop towns from forcing people, for nothing more than tax dollars, to live in them. We will reverse this."
Staff writer Dave Hart can be reached at 932-8744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.