Johnston County

Wilson’s Mills invites Clayton to the table

Wilson’s Mills is looking to hammer out an annexation agreement between itself and Clayton, setting the boundary for future growth.
Wilson’s Mills is looking to hammer out an annexation agreement between itself and Clayton, setting the boundary for future growth. jdjackson@newsobserver.com

In neighborhoods, property lines can be fuzzy things. Limbs overhang, shrubs swell and grow, and backyard ball fields need room to stretch out.

But towns don’t deal in lines; they deal in limits, where a thing is either contained or it isn’t. Clayton is growing to the north, south, east and west, seemingly 100 homes at a time. To the east, Wilson’s Mills is feeling a squeeze and now hopes the two towns can hammer out a plan to stay out of one another’s way over the years to come.

“We’re looking for an agreement that draws a line between the two towns establishing a boundary of where each can grow,” said Bill Anderson, town attorney for Wilson’s Mills. “At this point, I have no idea what that could be.”

A couple weeks ago, the Wilson’s Mills Town Council wrote a letter to Clayton looking to set a meeting. It hopes the two towns can form an annexation agreement to help determine where the two can grow and where they can’t. The impetus of the letter was Wilson’s Mills’ Dec. 7 annexation of 300 acres south of Powhatan Road, land that lies between the two towns.

The significance of that move is that it shakes up the tug of war over the Gordon tract and the 177 homes planned there. With its more than half-mile westward expansion, Wilson’s Mills is the closest town to all 61 acres of the Gordon tract, making it the only town that could form a satellite out of the development. Clayton would need Wilson’s Mills to sign off on an annexation agreement in order to bring the property into its town limits.

Despite the timing of the annexation and the invitation to the table, Anderson said this is not about the Gordon tract. Earlier this month, the Clayton Town Council approved plans for the first 28 homes of the development, which fall in the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. The developer hinted at eventual annexation by Clayton.

“We don’t have a scheme or plan or agenda,” Anderson said. “No line has been drawn. We want the meeting to discuss the whole big picture.”

The Clayton Town Council acknowledged the request during its last meeting of 2015. Town Manager Steve Biggs said he and town attorney Katherine Ross could look into sitting down with Anderson and Wilson’s Mills Town Manager Zachary Ollis. For his part, Biggs said the move of Wilson’s Mills’ boundaries doesn’t affect the Gordon tract.

“I’m at the same place I was at last December,” he said, referring to the two town’s earlier attempt to reach an annexation agreement with the Gordon tract developer.

Public hearings

The Clayton Town Council will ring in the new year with a trio of public hearings on Jan. 4. The most anticipated of those three is the council’s expected action on Lot 78 in Hannah’s Creek subdivision.

Developer Darryl Evans is seeking the town’s approval of the final lot in his 10-year-old subdivision. But that request has received considerable opposition from residents who claim Evans had promised them a park or open space on Lot 78. Last month, the planning board voted 5-2 to recommend the Town Council deny the lot, citing neighborhood unrest and discrepancies in planning documents filed with the county.

The council will also hold hearings on the parking lot plan for Hocutt Baptist Church and a large-lot subdivision along Little Creek Church Road south of U.S. 70.

Urban archery season opens next month for the first time ever in Clayton. The period where citizens can hunt deer with a bow and arrow within town limits runs from Jan. 9 to Feb. 13.

The Town Council approved urban hunting earlier this year, joining around 60 other North Carolina towns. Permits for the inaugural season are $10.

Urban hunting is limited to land, or a combination of land, that’s at least five acres and where the hunter has the owner’s written permission. Arrows can’t be fired within 100 yards of a day care, school, church or park, or within 50 yards of any dwelling or road – essentially quelling any fear of hunters downtown or in neighborhoods.

Town planner Jay McLeod said his office has already seen considerable demand for permits. Clayton cited the exploding deer population as one reason for allowing hunting within the town.

Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson

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