By CHRIS MENEES
Hornbeak officials are researching the process for “un-annexing” a piece of property after hearing concerns from a resident.
Hornbeak resident Duane Lyon addressed Hornbeak’s board of aldermen Tuesday night, claiming he was denied due process on annexation of his land several years ago and explaining he does not want to be in the city limits.
Lyon, who said he is a Union City native and a missionary who has traveled the world, told aldermen he is building his house on a piece of land given to him by his mother and was told the property on West Highway 21 was not in the city limits. However, when he went to pay his rural fire subscription fee at the county clerk’s office, he said he was told his house is located within the city limits.
He claimed that before starting construction last year, he was told by Hornbeak’s current town clerk and the former town clerk, as well as someone at the county courthouse, that he was not in the city limits when he specifically asked about it.
Lyon said he also questions the “constitutionality” of the rural fire subscription fee and feels there should be a method of pro-rating the fee for new customers who receive a few months of coverage under the existing billing cycle before the next billing cycle begins.
In explaining he does not want to be in the city limits, he told aldermen he knows there is a legal process for annexation and said he was denied due process. He said the decision has legal ramifications and he claimed he has suffered damages and been treated unfairly, adding he is also considering starting a community newspaper to write about some issues that could be unfavorable for business.
“If I’m annexed, un-annex me — at least my house,” he said.
Lyon said not all of his farm is in the city limits and said he would not have built his house on the portion he chose had he known that portion is in the city. He asked aldermen to “make it right” and to research the matter further.
Hornbeak Vice Mayor Dennis Dozier said from looking at old maps, it appears Lyon is in the city limits, although he thought the farm was not. He said none of the existing board members knew about the annexation of Lyon’s land or were involved in that particular annexation several years ago. City recorder Joyce Truett said she researched the tax roll and he was not listed there.
Alderman Debi Jerden said she felt like Lyon was “taking a threatening stance” with the board and she said the board needs to research the matter further and do whatever the law indicates. Lyon said he did not intend to appear threatening and is asking for help from the board.
After some exchange of words between Lyon and town officials, alderman Cody Caksackkar reiterated aldermen will research the matter and let Lyon know the findings.
Dozier inquired about what damages Lyon had suffered and he replied that he now has a lifetime of city taxes, but said he has never received a bill for city taxes and has paid his county taxes.
Lyon said he ultimately wants to be “de-annexed” and he will not be back again.
Hornbeak Mayor Pete Burpo said the matter needs to be turned over to the town’s attorney for research and Ms. Truett said she only received confirmation about the property Monday. Caksackkar suggested the board consult the town’s attorney, as well as the county mayor if needed, to research the matter and determine if they can “de-annex.”
It was also mentioned the town needs to check on payment of back taxes for the years Lyon was actually in the city limits.
In other action during Tuesday night’s 65-minute long meeting, Hornbeak’s board of aldermen:
• Decided bids will be taken for a culvert extension project and alderman Lynn Finch will get measurements.
• Learned Caksackkar has been checking prices for a basketball goal, backboard and pole for the city park and was updated about a grant for playground equipment.
• Set a time of 3-6 p.m. for a resident who plays music with a band to practice his drums a few times a week without disturbing a neighbor who has complained about the noise.
• Approved the purchase of a new copier/scanner for City Hall at a cost of $1,049 from Howard D. Happy.
• Agreed the town needs to consider changing the auditor for its audit service after learning the state comptroller’s office has sent another letter in regard to the town’s audit being late again. Ms. Truett said the current auditor had all of the materials in a timely manner and the town is not at fault.
• Heard an update on the rural fire subscription service from Hornbeak Fire Chief Bob Reavis. He said the new billing cycle will begin soon and renewal notices will be sent out for subscriptions to be due July 1. He said the fire chiefs have been talking about some type of reminder such as a newspaper ad or mailout.
Reavis also said the database for rural fire dispatch is being fine tuned and said there has been ongoing discussion about the individual towns needing to decide about pro-rating subscriptions as necessary.
Aldermen Christina Gray and Paul Truett were absent from Tuesday night’s meeting.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 5.02.12