Lake Junaluska annexation measure advances

By Vicki Hyatt | Jun 26, 2014

Thanks to a bit of maneuvering, it appears the legislation that would merge Lake Junaluska and Waynesville is now in play.

The measure sponsored by Sen. Jim Davis that originally passed in the Senate was held up in the House where it was appearing increasingly unlikely it would receive a committee hearing.

That prompted Davis to amend a bill that had previously passed the house to include the Waynesville-Lake Junaluska annexation language.

That bill passed second reading on Wednesday and third reading on Thursday.

Buddy Young, the public works director at Lake Junaluska, and lake resident Clifton Metcalf were in Raleigh to pass out a nine-page summary of the measure as they spoke with legislators about the need for the bill.

"Sen. Davis has been very supportive and is doing all he can to help us," Young said. "We are working diligently to do all we can to make this successful, too."

The summary document explained efforts undertaken since the 2013 legislative session to address issues raised by legislators.

On the advice of legislators, two petitions were circulated to determine support for the measure. One petition showed 67 percent of the qualified voters living in the affected area supported the merger, and another showed that 64 percent of the Lake Junaluska Assembly property owners petitioned for the merger.

The cover letter noted that both legislators who represent the district support the effort — Davis and Rep. Joe Sam Queen.

Left unsaid is that Rep. Michele Presnell, who does not represent the Lake Junaluska area, is actively working to stop the bill.

Even though the House failed to act on the merger issue last session, because it passed one chamber, it was eligible for consideration this year — the short session where the budget is tweaked and unfinished business from the previous session is taken up.

When it appeared doubtful the Senate bill on annexation would get a hearing in the House, Davis successfully amended House Bill 1080 to include the Lake Junaluska issue.

Since the bill had already passed the House, the revised measure will go to the Speaker of the House where it will be determined whether another committee hearing is necessary of it should go immediately to the floor for a vote.

The amended House bill 1080 passed its second reading in the Senate Wednesday with only one opposing vote.