Rep. Presnell pulls de-annexation bill

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Jun 11, 2014

Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Burnsville, attempted to introduce a local bill to de-annex Maggie Valley resident Joe Maniscalco on May 20, but then pulled the bill last week before it could be heard by the Government Committee.

Maniscalco owns about 3.5 acres on Clearview Drive off of Jonathan Creek and has been trying unsuccessfully to get de-annexed from the city for several years.

He argues that he was forced to annex in 2009 and that the town is unable to provide service to his home because of the narrow road and the lack of turnaround space for service vehicles.

However, just last month firefighters responded to his home after lightning was believed to start a fire. According to the fire department, fire trucks had no trouble accessing the home and the fire was extinguished quickly.

Maggie Valley Mayor Ron DeSimone said he drove to Raleigh on June 5 to show the town's opposition to the bill before it could be presented to the House Government Committee. He wanted to share some background with the two co-sponsors of the bill.

Maniscalco, 77, was arrested last July on several felony forgery charges in an attempt to get his property de-annexed. He later pleaded guilty to four counts lesser included charges of misdemeanor common law uttering during superior court last week. He was sentenced to suspended unsupervised probation for 18 months.

DeSimone said he presented the co-sponsors and the committee chairman with documentation of Maniscalco's annexation, the services he is provided and the felony charges he faced last year.

"Basically, I think individual committee members talked to (Presnell) beforehand, and in view of the documentation I showed them, I think they urged her to pull the bill," he said.

DeSimone said the annexation in 2009 was completely legal and that the town didn’t have issues servicing Maniscalco’s home. While the road is narrow, service trucks can back down the road just like they do for many streets in Maggie.

Presnell didn’t return a phone call Friday seeking explanation of why she filed or pulled the bill, but she did respond via email with a statement.

Since the legislature has to move at a fast pace during the short session, she said she felt it was best for all involved to pull the bill for now. She added that the issue might be revisited during the long session.

"The time frame for getting the bill through the short session, and getting the bill heard at all on the House floor and then the whole process of committees in the Senate was too short,” she said. “After the Government Committee, came Finance Committee, and then the special committee on Deannexation. Then to House floor, then over to the senate for their committees and then the Senate floor."

The Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen voted 3-2 to de-annex Maniscalco's property in 2012, but the board does not have the authority. Only the General Assembly can de-annex property through a local bill.

With local bills, the local legislators typically won’t even consider them unless it is a noncontroversial bill that the local governing board supports.