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Beaufort Votes One Annexation Proposal In and Tables the Other

Published: Dec. 7, 2006 at 4:35 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 12, 2006 at 1:22 PM EST
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One of many protest signs outside before the meeting.
One of many protest signs outside before the meeting.
Residents wave anti-annexation signs at the meeting.
Residents wave anti-annexation signs at the meeting.
Many took the microphone to speak against the proposed annexation.
Many took the microphone to speak against the proposed annexation.

Annexation has been a hot topic in the Low Country over the past few months. Wednesday night, hundreds came out in Beaufort for what was supposed to be the city council's final vote on a proposal to annex two pieces of land in the Seabrook area into the city.

After an extremely long and heated meeting, the city council approved the annexation of Clarendon Farms but tabled the annexation of McLeod Farm at the request of the McLeod family. They're decisions many are calling the biggest in Beaufort's history, and they certainly had many fired up.

Before the meeting even began, dozens of concerned citizens opposing the annexation protested outside Beaufort High School with signs, begging the city council to vote against two annexation proposals for Clarendon and McLeod Farms.

The proposals would extend the city to the Seabrook area and make way for close to 9,000 new homes and 1.6 million square feet of commercial space.

Inside the meeting, things got pretty heated as many stood up to voice their concerns to the council, urging members to listen to the people and vote against the annexation to protect their way of life, and many people didn't hold back.

While some say they didn't oppose the annexation, most stated shared their concerns about the negative impact it would have on the community, from congested roads to higher taxes.

"I'm thinking if we bring in all these new houses what's going to happen to the tax level?" said Martha Frazier.  "That tells me that the poor people are going to have to find somewhere else to live."

"Nobody that we know of knows all the nuances and I think it would be a crying shame for something as big as this, perhaps the biggest decision made in Beaufort's history, to be made by a three-to-two vote," said Pete Palmer.

But that's exactly what both of the two votes came down to.

Another big concern was the encroachment of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, and last night officials at MCAS stated they opposed the annexation simply because they didn't have enough information or time to review the plans to see if they would be impacted.

In fact, time was really the big issue last night. Many concerned residents stated the county council was rushing this vote and wanted the city to wait till the county's comprehensive plan for northern Beaufort County is complete before making any decisions.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com