Raleigh City Council voted to rescind the annexation of the Berkshire Downs neighborhood at today’s council meeting. The city had annexed the property earlier this year in a contentious proceeding.
Rodger Koopman (District B) raised the issue at the last meeting, saying today, “We are creating an undue hardship on this neighborhood, I think we need to provide economic relief.”
A group of residents were present at the meeting to show their disapproval of the annexation. Council voted to annex the subdivision at the beginning of the year, but then delayed the annexation until Dec. 31 after residents complained about the costs associated with connecting to city services.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time, since the city annexed us on January 6,” said Mat Trickel, a Bershire Downs resident. “It would cause economic hardships on our neighbors.” Hardships, he believes, that are unnecessary.
Last year, the city conducted a survey of the septic systems in the neighborhood and found a high risk of failure. After community action, a later independent survey had different results, showing only one failing septic system. The city determined that it was unnecessary to connect the neighborhood to the municipal sewage and water systems. The annexation process had already begun however, and was set to begin taxing the neighborhood for services residents present at the council meeting say they did not want, including solid waste pickup, fire and police.
“If you recall, the origin of this annexation was sewer and water,” Mayor Meeker said during the discussion.
Council members indicated that they could revisit annexing the subdivision when the economic situation improves. The process for annexation will have to start over and could take more than a year.
Tiered water rates
Councilors voted 5-3 to delay the tiered water rate system that was scheduled to start in December. Because of the close vote, the motion will have to return to council in two weeks for a second reading and final vote.
City Manager Russel Allen told council that the system was not ready to launch on schedule. He said the system was delayed because switching over to the new billing system has taken longer than expected and will need to be tested. Allen said the system should be ready in July.
Mayor Charles Meeker asked the city manager to give the council an update on progress in two months. The mayor said he hopes the system could be up in April or May.
If approved, the motion will increase residential water rates from $2.14 per ccf to $2.43 per ccf in the interim until the tiered rates can go into effect.
The new billing system will charge residential water customers more if they use more water. It will also change the billing to monthly instead of every other month.
C. Duncan Pardo contributed reporting for this story.