The North Carolina State Senate echoed the sentiments of the Roanoke Rapids City Council and the State House of Representatives by voting 48-0 Thursday to de-annex Brandy Creek from the city of Roanoke Rapids.
The community was annexed in 2005 as part of the development of the Carolina Crossroads entertainment district, which includes The Roanoke Rapids Theatre. Residents there saw a dramatic jump in their property values, which led to huge spikes in their property tax rate, which led to members of the community approaching the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights in order to seek de-annexation.
In March, the city council declined to support de-annexation of Brandy Creek, but reversed course in April, which led to state Sen. Ed Jones, D-Enfield, bringing a measure before the Senate to de-annex the community while state Rep. Angela Bryant, D-Rocky Mount, and state Rep. Glen Bradley, R-Youngsville, pushed the measure in the state House.
The bill passed both houses, Jones said, with the Senate voting Thursday to officially de-annex the area.
“Brandy Creek was unjustly annexed by Roanoke Rapids in 2005 by a legislative annexation with no notice to the community,” said Peter Gilbert, of the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights. “The community is grateful that justice has been done.”
Mayor Emery Doughtie, who has long expressed reservations about the way the community was annexed, has been in favor of de-annexation since he took office in 2009.
“I’m glad for those individuals that were unjustly annexed into the city,” Doughtie said. “They had no real voice in being able to speak about whether they wanted to come in or not. I said in a council meeting, if we had the chance to right a wrong I felt we should act on it. I’m glad we did, and I’m glad the General Assembly felt the same and supported it.”
Councilman Greg Lawson, who was the city’s police chief in 2005 and has long expressed a desire to see the area de-annexed, echoed the mayor’s sentiments.
“I think it’s a very positive thing to make a wrong right,” Lawson said. “I’m happy for the folks out there at Brandy Creek. Given the circumstances under which they were brought into the city ,this is the only right thing to make justice for them. I’m very pleased.”
Jones was also pleased by the result.
“I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Jones said. “The people out there are elated. The only thing we want to do is make sure people are treated fairly, and the people need to have a say-so in what’s happening to them anyway.”
Jones said city support was vital to his efforts, and now Brandy Creek has been de-annexed, he is hoping to move forward finding ways to help Roanoke Rapids.
“The bad thing about government, you can’t make everybody happy,” Jones said. “Hopefully we can continue to do the right thing and do what’s right for Roanoke Rapids.”