Gabriel Sistare, staff writer
The community of Swannanoa has filed its application for incorporation with the State of North Carolina.
Swannanoa submitted the application to the Joint Committee on Municipal Incorporations, the legislative body in Raleigh that will review the proposal.
The Joint Committee will validate signatures that were collected by the Swannanoa Incorporation Task Force last fall. The signatures received were part of a petition in support of incorporation.
The application included information regarding the orientation of the future government of Swannanoa. The community would be represented by an all-volunteer government with a mayor elected every two years, and five council members elected to four year terms.
Swannanoa would receive revenue from property taxes of 5 cents per $100 valuation. This new revenue would be able to fund operations such as infrastructure development, police and security that would specifically patrol the Swannanoa community, and a contract with the Swannanoa Volunteer Fire Department.
The Incorporation Task Force, a group that grew out of the Swannanoa Pride Community Coalition (SPCC), collected signatures from 25.3% of the registered voters in Swannanoa. Substantially more than the 15% needed to submit a proposal for incorporation.
Dave Alexander, leader of the Incorporation Task Force, is hopeful that a bill will be introduced into the North Carolina General Assembly session in 2009, and that a subsequent referendum will be offered next Spring.
When the Swannanoa Incorporation Task Force grew out of the SPCC in August of 2007, an adjunct marketing professor at Montreat College conducted research to see if incorporation was a viable option. According to the information received from the research, 75% of Swannanoa residents were in favor of an initiative to incorporate.
Since the Beacon Textile Plant left the community, Swannanoa has experienced, as Alexander said, “a leadership vacuum.” The plant acted as the “de facto government” of Swannanoa, providing the community with infrastructural services, security officers, and housing.
“The bottom line,” Alexander said, “is that the community needs leadership.”
According to Alexander, it has been fifty years since anyone from Swannanoa has been elected as a public official, the last one being a member of the Beacon Plant administration who was a county commissioner.
“I am not sure if we are getting our fair share of taxes” Alexander said in reference to the dues given by the community of Swannanoa.
Support for the process of incorporation has been given by the surrounding communities of Black Mountain, Montreat and Asheville.