Rock Hill will resume its plan to cut off water and sewer services for residents living in Miller Pond, along with two other neighborhoods along S.C. 161 who have refused to be annexed, city officials said Wednesday.
Starting today, city workers will notify residents of termination dates through letters, phone calls and by placing blue flags near their water meters.
The city will begin with five homes on Monday and phase out service to others over the next three weeks.
The decision comes after a meeting Wednesday morning between city officials, residents and their attorneys ended with no compromise in sight, said attorney Jim Meggs, who represents the residents.
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City Manager Carey Smith called the meeting to discuss a list of proposed solutions residents offered the city on Friday, but the city has accepted none of them, calling them impractical.
He said the City Council considered the proposals "respectfully and fairly" and chose to endorse the city officials' plan to go forward with terminating residents' services.
The proposal offered the city "nothing to help us realize our objective, which is annexation," Smith said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Meggs and David Grigg, the president of the Miller Pond home owners association, plan to inform residents of the city's decision.
"The stress for these neighbors is likely to continue," Meggs said after the meeting. "We were hoping for a cooling-off period" that would give the residents time to consider their options.
The residents had hoped to begin a dialogue with the city at Wednesday's meeting, Meggs said, but city officials offered a "reiteration of the same proposal that's been on the table since July."
That proposal includes following a timeline of annexation that would prevent residents from having to pay city taxes until fall 2012 or January 2013, and allowing residents to pay other fees over a period of time instead of all at once.
"I wish we could say we received something from the neighborhood that is acceptable," Smith said.
City: Developer OK'd plan
The city maintains its right to annex stems from an agreement it formed with the neighborhood's original developer long before houses were built or lots were sold.
In the agreement, the city agreed to provide utilities in exchange for the promise to annex at a later date. That obligation was passed on to future property owners.
Now the city is asking residents to fulfill that obligation by signing annexation petitions.
But some residents are refusing, arguing that they didn't know about the agreement to join the city and are questioning whether they are legally obligated.
York County officials have joined the residents in asking the city to ask a judge to rule on the dispute before cutting off residents' water.
But Smith said the city is on firm legal ground in terminating the residents' services.
"We don't see that there's anything to be gained" by taking the matter to court, he said. The issue is about "taking a legal document and saying we want you to do what you said you would do," he said.
Meggs declined to comment when asked if residents plan to sue the city.
If taps run dry, signs advertising well-drilling services near Miller Pond indicate one possible alternative for residents there.
But solutions for residents of Summerwood and Miller Pond II - who have city water and sewer - aren't as apparent.
Still, Ken Davidson of Summerwood and John Donovan of Miller Pond II are standing firmly against annexation.
"There are legal issues and moral issues," said Davidson. "We have some people with small babies" in the neighborhood.
"The city is trying to push us to the edge of the cliff - but I'm not there yet," Donovan said. "I would like to see this resolved in the courts."
Sherman Radford, who lives in Miller Pond II, said he supports fighting annexation, but sees it as a lose-lose situation for him.
"I totally respect what the Miller Pond folks want to accomplish," he said, "but nobody can really appreciate having lived here for two years and having spent almost $4,000 on water and sewer already."
Annexation would mean a significantly lower water and sewer bill for Radford, who said he has paid from $140 a month to twice that for water and sewer. Donovan said his water bill recently was close to $300.
The city also has offered to help fix some roads in Miller Pond II and provide other needed improvements, Radford said.
But Radford also doesn't want to join what he sees as a "thuggish" government.
"I feel like that neighborhood shop owner that has the thugs come in and say, we'll protect you, but this is how much it's going to cost."