LAUREL HILL — Ernestine and Johnny James are still not Laurel Hill residents.
Councilman Scott Moneypenny gave technical and legal reasons why he felt the annexation couldn't occur, but it was another clerical error that pushed the annexation back at least two more months.
The first such error occurred in the 1960s, when the James' Robbins Road property wasn't properly annexed as intended. That error was discovered in late 2014, resulting in Johnny James' ouster from the City Council in April 2015.
When the council on March 3 passed two ordinances on first read accepting the James' request for annexation and amending the city's comprehensive plan to reflect the addition of their property, it appeared approving the ordinances at Thursday night's second reading would bring the property into the city.
Moneypenny, who has consistently opposed James' efforts to annex his property, revealed an error that occurred when City Clerk Nita Miller notified the Board of County Commissioners of the proposed annexation, per state law.
Miller sent the notification the same day as the March 3 meeting was first advertised, but state law requires the notification to include a printed copy of the advertisement for the meeting, which Miller inadvertently omitted.
Thursday, the council agreed to re-advertise the ordinances, which will receive a first reading at the council's May 5 meeting, and, if it passes, a second and final reading at the June meeting.
The city had accepted the Jameses’ $2,050 annexation application fee last fall.
During Thursday’s discussion, Moneypenny challenged the ordinances because they were approved in November 2015 on Councilwoman Debra Adams’ condition that the council first pass a resolution changing the rates for an annexation request.
That resolution was changed to an ordinance that passed Thursday night.
When city attorney Dan Campbell said that because the resolution was no longer relevant to passing the James' annexation, Moneypenny brought up the February clerical error.
"So re-advertise it and vote again," Campbell said.
Councilman Travis Dewrell asked if there were any other problems that could prevent or delay the annexation.
“I have lots more,” Moneypenny.
"It needs to benefit the city," Moneypenny said, adding property should only be annexed to bring a benefit such as ad valorem taxes to the city, but the James property was valued too low to incur taxes.
"We can't speculate on that," Dewrell said.
Councilman Daniel Lane said the council was treating the Jameses unfairly by accepting their money but continuing to obstruct their annexation.
"The man has done everything we asked of him," Lane said. "It is not fair."