A dispute between Rock Hill and a group of county residents fighting annexation might come down to whether a judge upholds a decades-old city policy requiring annexation in exchange for water and sewer services.
The residents of Miller Pond - located roughly seven miles northwest of downtown Rock Hill, where home values range from $216,000 to $411,000 - have been fighting the city's efforts to bring them into Rock Hill since July.
The residents, who receive water services from the city, argue that the city has no legal authority to require them to annex. The city disagrees.
On Monday, attorneys representing the city and the residents will present their cases to a 16th Circuit Court judge. The judge might grant a motion for summary judgment - ruling in favor of either the city or the residents - or defer judgment until after a trial takes place.
"We're hopeful, but nervous," said David Grigg, president of Miller Pond's homeowners association. "Everyone's anxious to hear what the judge has to say."
Annexation in South Carolina requires that property be contiguous to a city's limits and three-quarters of property owners holding three-quarters of the property value must approve.
To ensure its growth, the city often extends water and sewer services to not-yet-contiguous county properties in exchange for the property owners' promise to be annexed at a later date. That obligation is passed down to future property owners through an agreement sometimes formed long before houses are built or lots sold.
When the city extended water to Miller Pond in 1998, it formed the same agreement with the neighborhood's original developer.
The obligation to be annexed, the city claims, passed on to the homeowners.
In July, the city decided to annex Miller Pond, along with several other properties along S.C. 161 adjacent to the recently annexed Walmart.
The city urged residents to sign annexation petitions. The residents refused, and the city threatened to cut off their water.
The residents then sued the city, and city officials agreed to postpone plans to turn off the taps until after a court settled the dispute.
Miller Pond residents have argued that they were never told about the agreement until recently, when the city began its pursuit. City officials counter that the agreement is a legal contract and a matter of public record.
The residents hope to prove the agreement is invalid.
The city hopes the court will rule that the homeowners must either sign annexation petitions or face the consequences of refusal - losing their water.
The city has been using similar agreements since 1978 to expand its territory and has more than 1,000 on the books, according to a court document filed by Mark White, the city's attorney.
The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday at the York County courthouse.