Mebane city council members must surely being growing tired of hearing from Omega Wilson, a local self-appointed activist with the West End Revitalization Association.
Wilson came before the council recently and repeated, yet again, his well-worn canards against the city.
He’s been using essentially the same charges – indeed, largely the same speech – for more than 22 years.
And it is no more accurate now than it was 22 years ago.
Wilson, who is black, continues to harangue the city council for not having provided water and sewer service to three or four predominantly black areas. He usually implies that these areas – Mrs. White Lane & White Level Road, Perry Hill, Buckhorn Road, and parts of West End – are within Mebane.
He often glosses over or conveniently omits altogether the pivotal fact that those areas are not in the city limits of Mebane.
Haven’t been, aren’t now, and aren’t likely to be – unless and until residents in those areas ask to be annexed within the city.
And it’s not that the city has discriminated against annexing those areas because they’re black.
Those black residents have not sought to be included in the city – ever.
And we understand why.
Just like white residents who live on the outskirts of the city, they don’t want to pay city taxes.
That’s the way municipal government works – for blacks, whites, and everyone else.
Residents within the city limits pay city taxes for city services.
Non-residents who live outside the city, don’t have to.
But no one gets such services, like water and sewer lines, for free.
Not in black neighborhoods outside Mebane.
Nor in white neighborhoods outside Mebane.
Nor for any race outside any municipality.
Neither Mebane nor any other Alamance County municipality that we know of runs water and sewer lines to non-residents – of any race or color – unless they are within that city’s municipal boundaries.
If they happen to run lines nearby, they’ll allow non-residents to tap on – for a fee, and those non-residents usually pay monthly bills at the rate of twice the in-city rate.
We don’t know why this simple municipal principle is so hard to comprehend or recognize.
We wish Wilson was at this month’s Mebane city council meeting last week where one of those residents on the fringe of the city asked for a voluntary annexation into the city.
Wilson should have seen another black Mebane-area resident who petitioned to have his property on Mrs. White’s Lane – one of the four areas Wilson always cites as continually discriminated against by the city – annexed into the city, as the resident requested.
Guy Land told the city council he wants to build a home on the property and wants to have access to city water and sewer.
Land made his request, the city conducted a public hearing on it (at which no one other than Land spoke), and the council unanimously voted to approve his request for annexation.
There was no discrimination in scheduling the hearing, holding it, or in coming to a conclusion (unanimously) to annex the property. (Land, like Wilson, is black.)
In Wilson’s last appearance before the city council, in September, it seems to us that Wilson sought to perpetuate a fight against various forms of “discrimination” that simply don’t exist – and never have, at least as he describes it – in Mebane.
Meanwhile, however, he has his own form of discrimination that he wanted to perpetuate.
Back in September, Wilson summarized that the West End community on the outskirts of the city “has been nearly 100-percent black-owned since 1865, when slavery ended.”
We’re not sure about his time frame, but the fact that West End is currently, and has historically been, predominantly black is true enough.
And in Wilson’s view, it should remain so.
Wilson told the city council that he was opposed to what he termed “white resident gentrification,” by which he apparently means allowing any white person to buy a home – or buy a lot and then build a home – in the predominantly black section of town.
One doesn’t have to wonder at the outrage that would ensue if any white resident in the city uttered the words that “their” neighborhood should remain predominantly white.
A white developer from Raleigh, Peter Gitto, is building several houses within Mebane, all on so-called “in-fill” lots in various parts of the city. He already has buyers for some of them – and doesn’t, he told us in an interview, know the race of the purchasers.
One of the most significant results of the Civil Rights era of the 1960’s and subsequently has been the incorporation of Equal Housing standards in home buying and home financing.
No one – of any race – may discriminate in buying, selling, or financing real estate.
Neither may municipalities, such as Mebane, show any preference for, or against, a project, a rezoning request, a building permit, or any other requested governmental action based on a homeowner’s, or would-be homeowner’s, race.
Which, sadly, is precisely what Wilson seemed to be advocating.
Fortunately, Mebane city council members largely ignored Wilson’s statements when he pontificated on his views during that September meeting.
Frankly, though, they should have called him out for his continuing misrepresentations about their treatment of black Mebane residents (and non-residents).
And they should have given him a basic tutorial on civil rights laws and one reason they were enacted: to prohibit preference for or discrimination against any race.