The Ashford Planning Commission is looking toward the city's future. And part of its plan is to annex seven areas bordering the city.
"Ashford is a small town, but we are set up so that if people want to grow, we can. The other thing is, I think we need to expand our city limits." said Mayor Jonathan Grecu.
The proposal is raising concern in the potential annex communities. But Grecu says there's nothing to worry about. Right now, it’s just a presentation made by the planning committee just a few weeks ago, and he says the public will get the final say.
"We want the city to grow. And we want those identified with the city to have the option to join if they would like,” said Grecu. “And if they wouldn't, we are not forcing this on anybody."
He says it’s a big dream for the city. But for others, it's a big nightmare. They say there's just too much government involvement.
"It's a revenue grab, as far as getting revenue for the City of Ashford,” said Houston County resident Charles Brown. “It does not provide, as I can tell, any services, whatsoever. It also increases my costs, in terms of the buildings and the tax rates."
Some say it's nothing less than a big money grab and that the city doesn't see the big picture.
More taxes, water bills, and sanitation are just a few of the concerns, and if the public votes on the issue, they're concerned about how the votes will be counted.
"It's just going to be more road maintenance, it's going to belong to Ashford if they annex it, which is going to be more expenses for Ashford,” Brown said. “They're going to have to lay on more police and garbage trucks, because the county's doing that now. And I just don't see where it's a viable solution."
The City Council is reviewing the proposal and hopes to address all concerns. If the annex is approved, the city will then leave it up to the public to decide the outcome.
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