RALEIGH, N.C. — Annexation opponents are making their voices heard as they lobby state lawmakers to change current annexation laws.
Protesters from across the state, including Cary, Goldsboro and Fayetteville, positioned themselves in front of the Legislative Building Wednesday in an effort to stop involuntary annexation -- what some of them call "extreme home takeovers."
They argue current annexation laws give them no say when cities and towns try to pull in residents. They want the laws to change to allow residents being annexed a chance to vote.
Bob Pleasants is one of the homeowners who filed suit to stop Goldsboro from annexing his neighborhood.
"It's almost a moral issue, because it's immoral, I think, for a municipality to force its will on a group of people who don't want it," Pleasants said.
State law currently allows municipalities to annex land without a vote by the people affected.
"We have no say in it. The only thing we can do is go to a public hearing and express our sentiments," Pleasants said. "But the city council has no obligation to listen to us at all -- and they don't listen."
The attempt to get legislator's attention happens on the same day that the North Carolina League of Municipalities holds its legislative action day. Organizers said the protest is a direct response to the lobbying power of the League, which is pushing lawmakers to keep annexation laws the way they are.
"Cities have been able to grow as a result," Joycelyn Johnson of the N.C. League of Municipalities said. "When you look at small groups, it's those major cities that provide the major economic engines for community."
The North Carolina House and Senate are considering nine annexation reform bills and the League, which represents more than 530 towns and cities, opposes all of them.
The state's annexation law has not seen changes since 1959. Before then, residents living in an area sought for annexation could vote on whether to allow it.
North Carolina is one of five in the United States that allows city-initiated annexations without a vote by residents.