A petition to have the town of Walnut Cove annex the neighboring Walnut Tree community has failed to meet the state requirements to be certified and advanced to a public hearing.
Walnut Cove Town Manager Bobby Miller told the town’s Board of Commissioners Tuesday that the petition was lacking some of the signatures required to be certified.
“We spent many hours doing our research in the attempt to certify the petition,” he said. “The statute requires 100 percent participation from land owners in the area to be annexed for it to move on to the hearing stage.”
Other reasons listed in a packet provided to town commissioners included: many properties have more than one owner listed on the county list used as reference, names on the petition that are not property owners according to the county list, names of property owners not signed individually on the petition and names could not be read and identified. The packet noted that it seemed one person signed more than one name.
Town Attorney Ann Rowe said the residents of Walnut Tree could still amend the petition to meet the certification requirements, a task which David Hairston, who initially filed the petition vowed to do in the near future.
Rowe noted that while missing signatures could be added to the existing petition, town staff would still have to re-verify all of the existing signatures to make sure they were still the property owners.
Hairston said part of the problem was that some of the property was listed as being owned by banks that no longer existed and said he was working with the state school of government to resolve that issue.
Commissioner Sharon Conaway raised an additional issue, saying that it appeared the town actually owned one of the pieces of property it was being asked to annex, an issue that Rowe said she would have to look into.
Conaway also noted that the original petition requested the town transfer the Walnut Tree residents to the town water supply.
“The water system in Walnut Tree was transferred to Walnut Cove in 1998,” she said. “There is no separate water system, it is already part of the Walnut Cove water system.”
Walnut Tree residents had complained last month of murky water and had presented an independent water sample showing the presence of coliform bacteria contamination. Subsequent tests by the town at the same water source showed no contamination.
Miller said the town had taken the Walnut Tree well offline as soon as they heard of the clarity problem and had started to replace filters for the well on Tuesday.
“I have had no complaints since we did that so we are hopeful we have narrowed the problem down,” he said. “The quality of the water right now is excellent.”
— Walnut Cove commissioners approved the closure of Main Street for the annual Springfest celebration after a lengthy discussion on how the closure would impact local businesses and safety on community roads as trucks were rerouted for the day.
— The board approved a rezoning request for 1058 North Main Street to bring the property in line with surrounding zoning.
— The board saw a demonstration of new digital water meters, which the vendor said could help reduce water waste and man hours and help identify leaks. Replacing all of the meters in town with the new meter could cost between $130,034 and $152,133 depending on if the town chose to pay for the news meters over one, two or three years.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.