WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After the state Senate voted to stop forced annexation, we wanted to hear from Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo about the city’s plan. Today we finally tracked him down.
“If this is the new law of the day for the State of North Carolina, we’ll follow that law,” Saffo said. “If they change the law next year, we’ll follow that law. If they change the law next year, we’ll follow that law.”
Votes Thursday by the North Carolina Senate pushed forward a repeal of the annexation of Monkey Junction, and put annexation in the hands of voters.
The moves come after Wilmington and other cities sued the General Assembly over annexation. Saffo said while the Senate’s decision was expected, he also believes it’s unfortunate and unfair.
“The County of New Hanover in 2002 sued the State of North Carolina and sued the legislature in 2002, and they were never retaliated against,” he said. “I just think it’s just a new day in the State of North Carolina. If you take on the state legislature, there’s a very good chance that something like this could happen to you.”
If the bills pass, Monkey Junction will no longer receive city services. It’s a decision Saffo believes limits growth, but he thinks the city could still grow in other areas.
Saffo said the potential tax base loss will not impact the city’s decision to fund the ballpark.
“That has nothing to do with it,” Saffo said. “The issue in respect to the ballpark is if it’s a good deal for the city and a good deal for the developers that are bringing this ballpark forward. If it’s a good deal, then we can move forward with it. If it’s not a good deal, then we are not going to move forward with it.”
Another big blow to annexation in the bills is that, if passed, the city will have to wait another 12 years before trying to annex Monkey Junction again.