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Wednesday, 06 February 2013 00:00

Merger input sought in countdown to decision

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Waynesville residents will get their first chance to weigh in on the possibility of adding Lake Junaluska to the town limits with two public hearings this month.

 

Town leaders must decide by mid-March whether to introduce a bill in the General Assembly that would officially make Lake Junaluska a part of Waynesville.

The residential community of Lake Junaluska, which sits less than a mile from Waynesville’s borders, has been contemplating its future during the past year. A 14-member task force is considering three options: merge with Waynesville, become a town itself or continue as a highly-structured homeowner’s association.

Lake Junaluska property owners have had ample opportunity to voice their opinion at public meetings, but Waynesville’s residents will now get a chance to share their thoughts on bringing the community into the town’s fold.

The town would get considerable property tax revenue if it absorbs Lake Junaluska’s 800 homes. But it would also take on the role of police protection, trash collection, street maintenance and other town services — along with inheriting Lake Junaluska’s aging water and sewer lines in need of repair and replacement.

The town has been researching the implications of bringing Lake Junaluska into the town for several months.

“This has been essentially our fulltime job for the last month,” Town Manager Marcy Onieal said. “We are very close.”

Onieal said she is confident that a merger would be possible and not harmful to either entity.

“I think we are still in the ballpark of this being feasible for both parties,” Onieal said.

However, before Waynesville leaders vote on anything, they want to hear residents’ thoughts or concerns.

The town commissioned consulting firm Martin-McGill Associates to provide an analysis of a merger. Onieal will present information from the study at two town hall meetings: 7 p.m. on Feb. 12 and 11 a.m. on Feb. 22 at the town hall boardroom.

— By Caitlin Bowling

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