NC, June 2- Golf has made Moore County rich. There are
spas, country clubs and new $2 million homes. The United
States Open, to be held later this month on the most
famous of the county's 43 golf courses, is expected to
bring $124 million to the state.
But as developers rush
to provide "resort quality" amenities in the newest
subdivisions, some neighborhoods have been left behind -
without sewers, police service, garbage pickup or even,
in some cases, piped water.
These enclaves, Jackson
Hamlet, Midway and Waynor Road, are virtually all black.
They butt up against, or are even completely surrounded
by, affluent towns that are mostly white: Pinehurst,
Aberdeen and Southern Pines.
The 500 residents of
these unincorporated enclaves are close enough to point
out sewer lines that run past their properties en route
to new developments, or to watch garbage trucks trundle
past without stopping.
Though the towns have
not annexed these hamlets about 60 miles southwest of
Raleigh, and their residents cannot vote in municipal
elections, they are subject to the towns' land use and
zoning rules under what is called extraterritorial
When asked about
extending basic services, the towns' officials say they
must take care of those within their existing boundaries
before taking on new neighborhoods. The county, on the
other hand, says that many of its rural constituents do
not have the services the enclaves are requesting, and
that the problems of these more densely populated areas
can be better addressed by towns.
minority areas from town boundaries is a common but
little examined practice, particularly in small towns in
the South, civil rights advocates and geographers say.
With the US Open beginning on June 16 on the Pinehurst
No.2 golf course, residents of the three black
neighborhoods and their advocates are making a concerted
effort for the first time to win more services, holding
news conferences and giving tours.
Historically, they are
the very people who provided much of the labor that
built the hotels in the Sandhills, as the area is known,
tended the greens at the golf courses or worked on the
all-black crew of caddies, long since replaced by
Ida Mae Murchison lives
in Jackson Hamlet, a shady neighborhood of dirt roads
hemmed in by Aberdeen and Pinehurst but claimed by
neither. On one corner, a new apartment complex juts in;
it was annexed by Pinehurst, which often expands to
include areas where a developer has already paid for the
infrastructure. At the rear, a place once called Buckety
Ford, where Jackson Hamlet children fetched water, has
been dammed to create a 200-acre lake surrounded by
houses, also part of Pinehurst.
"I get the feeling that
we're just forgotten, put on the shelf or the back
burner or something," Ms Murchison said. "But like I
say, I don't want to offend anyone. I don't want to
Ms Murchison was the
first black chambermaid at the Carolina Inn, the
gracious centerpiece of the 110-year-old Pinehurst
resort, where she worked for nearly 50 years. Now 84 and
retired, she lives alone, worrying because there are no
police officers for her to call in case of trouble.
Despite two nearby municipal police forces, her
neighborhood is the responsibility of the county sheriff
- whose deputies, she says, take at least 10 minutes to
In Midway, a black
community almost surrounded by Aberdeen, the yards are
teeming with flowers, grapevines, statues and birdbaths.
But the languid perfume of honeysuckle is punctuated by
an equally heavy stench of raw sewage.
Randy Thomas, a food
service manager at the Department of Corrections who has
just adopted four young children, said he had to haul in
sand every two months to cover the septic system leaks
that trickle down his driveway.
Mr Thomas's neighbor
James McDougal said his mother had to move out of her
house down the street when she got too old to use the
outhouse. The county will not allow a septic tank
because the lot is too small, Mr McDougal said.
Michael Holden says the residents' request for services
puts the county in a "delicate situation," in part
because of competing demands for resources.
"I will admit Moore
County waited way too long and should have been doing
this stuff 20, 25 years ago," Mr Holden said, pointing
out that in the past 10 years the county has used grant
money to extend water or sewer service to some minority
communities. But, he added, "It's a matter of biting it
off little by little, and doing chunks of it and moving
In 2000, the state
allotted a federal development grant to pay for water
and sewer lines for a black enclave called Monroe Town.
Every well there was substandard; county officials found
a dead possum in one. But Monroe Town, which lies inside
the subdivision that surrounds the Pinehurst No.6 golf
course, remains unincorporated and lacks other services,
like garbage pickup.
Without a grant, the
county is disinclined to pay for infrastructure for the
enclaves. Those seeking services are quick to point out
that the county ranks 18th out of 100 in the state in
median income, even though it has no major urban center,
and that its tax burden is low, with a rate in the
bottom 10 percent. In the past 10 years, the county's
property tax revenue has more than doubled, and it ended
the 2004 fiscal year with a $9.3 million surplus.
Asked if the county
could just pay outright for the pipes and other
necessities (one estimate is that it would cost $1.5
million to $1.75 million to establish sewer services for
Jackson Hamlet), Mr Holden said, "Then where do you
Officials also say that
these enclaves have been wary of annexation in the past,
fearful of the higher taxes that come with being part of
a municipality or of the potential destruction of their
communities by developers.
"Some of the ones who
are really pushing all this don't have everybody on
board like they would like you to think," said Bill Zell,
the town manager of Aberdeen.
Once services are
established, the costs seem modest. A family in Jackson
Hamlet that pays $270.96 a year in property taxes now,
on a $50,000 home, would pay $382.56 if annexed by
Pinehurst and $452.64 if annexed by Aberdeen. According
to figures provided by the University of North Carolina
Center for Civil Rights, which is helping the black
communities, the actual cost to these families could
decrease because they would no longer pay for septic
tank maintenance, private garbage pickup and other
expenses that their municipal taxes would cover.
Andy Wilkison, the town
manager of Pinehurst, said Jackson Hamlet and Monroe
Town declined to consider being annexed in 1990 and
1991, respectively, in part to avoid higher taxes. "I
know what the maps look like and stuff," Mr Wilkison
said, "but the annexations have largely been places
where people have come to us wanting to be annexed".
Waynor Road, which has
neither sewer nor water service, is seeking annexation
by Southern Pines, and the town is studying the
economics of such a move. To officials, town boundaries
are not a matter of race but money. Parcels are annexed
after a developer pays for sewer and water hookups or if
the area's tax base is likely to generate enough revenue
to pay for itself.
When Frank Quis, the
mayor of Southern Pines, was asked about racial
exclusion, he said: "Are you telling me everyone on
Waynor Road is of a certain race? I mean, that's kind of
But Anita S Earls, a
lawyer with the University of North Carolina Center for
Civil Rights, said that even if officials were not
motivated by racism, historic racial inequities were
part of the equation. "We have not found a densely
populated, small lot size, poor white community on the
edge of a town," Ms Earls said.
The exclusion of
minority neighborhoods, sometimes called municipal
underbounding, occurs across the country. In Modesto,
Calif, Hispanics have exchanged visits with the Moore
County residents and are suing for services. In 2003, a
black community outside Zanesville, Ohio, got tap water
after filing a civil rights complaint. But civil rights
advocates say it is most prevalent in small towns across
"I don't think it
happens even in larger cities in North Carolina because
the political dynamics are so different," said Allan
Parnell, the vice president of the Cedar Grove Institute
for Sustainable Communities in Mebane, NC, which did a
study of racial exclusion by North Carolina towns. "In
larger towns there may be a larger black population that
has some say in running the community".
blacks political power while putting them at the mercy
of politicians who do not represent them, Ms Earls said.
All of the Moore County Commissioners, elected at large,
are white, and black officials, elected or appointed,
are scarce in the three towns.
officials said the lack of diversity in government was
not an issue because they treated their constituents
"Honey, I work with
blacks and I love to work with the blacks," said
Virginia Saunders, in her 10th year as a county
commissioner. "I wish you could talk to some of the
black people that I have helped".
But Maurice B Holland
Sr., who lives in Midway and is the only black member of
the Aberdeen planning board, had a different view.
"There's no one in
power to address the issues of the black community," Mr
Holland said. "The attitude seems to be, 'We know what's
good for you' ".
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