Senate vote makes annexation harder

Posted May 17, 2012

— The state Senate Thursday voted in favor of two bills that would make new, more stringent changes to the state's annexation law. 

Last year, the General Assembly passed an Annexation Reform package, H845, that made a major change in the state's involuntary annexation law: it gave property owners in an area to be annexed the power to stop the process if 60% of them submitted petitions against it.

At the time the law was passed, nine cities had annexations underway. The cities took the state to court over it.

In March 2012, a Wake County judge found the provision unconstitutional. According to the judge, the petition amounted to an election, and the state's constitution forbids using the ownership of property as a requirement for voting. 

On Wednesday, the Senate rolled out its answer to the ruling in two bills. Both passed Thursday and are destined for a third and final vote next week.

One, House Bill 925, makes three changes to the 2011 law:

  • Instead of a petition, cities would have to hold an actual referendum election on the annexation
  • The election would be open to all registered voters who live in the area, not just landowners.
  • And the threshold for disapproval of the annexation would be lowered from 60 percent to just 50 percent. 

If an annexation is rejected, cities would have to wait three years before putting it to a vote again. 

Senator Buck Newton, R-Wilson, sponsored the bill. He said it would put an end to the litigation over the constitutionality of last year's law. And he blasted cities for "wasting taxpayer money" to take the law to court in the first place. 

Tony Tetterton with the Fair Annexation Coalition was pleased, but a bit surprised by the turn of events. He said the Coalition would have preferred to restrict the vote to property owners. 

"We were looking for a more happy medium," Tetterton said. "We got a little more than that in that we got a vote. We really weren't expecting that."

"Obviously we're not displeased by that," he added. 

The second bill goes even further. House Bill 5 stops the nine litigated annexation projects by legislative fiat. Those cities would be forbidden from trying to annex those areas again for 12 years, instead of 3. 

Newton said the 12-year ban was the "consensus" lawmakers reached to give residents in those areas a breather.

"They’ve been yo-yoed around and run through the wringer for years and years and years, and they’ve paid a lot of money out of their pockets to fight this every step of the way," Newton said. "It’s time for them to have a break." 

"We could have done it permanently," Newton added. "Spaghetti dinners every month to raise the money to pay their lawyers through all this? It was time to take them off the hook."

Kelly Kukura with the NC League of Municipalities says the 12-year ban is just a way to punish the cities who dared to sue the state. 

"I don't think it's a good idea for legislators to set policy that is going to impact the state for a very long time to come based on anger or some misguided sense of retribution," she said. "That's not why we elect our legislators."

Kukura called the referendum rewrite "patently unfair" because it allows a minority - voters who would be annexed - to overrule the majority of voters in a city.

She said cities need to have the power to manage growth in a balanced way, and making that more difficult will hurt economic development. "Particularly now," added Kukura, "when we have such a need for attracting new employers, new industry, and for dealing the quality of life issues that we have across the state given the economy." 


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  • ladyblue May 18, 2012

    The cities want annexations for "ONE REASON" to collect more taxes so they can feed the "deadbeats" in the cities that are on welfare

    yep they want more but maybe it's for the ridiculous retirement benefits the unions have them paying for retired government workers (i recall several states with cities with this problem)

  • loprestw May 18, 2012

    What will Fayetteville do if they can't annex tax paypers and have to continue to support non tax payers?

  • Nancy May 18, 2012

    "Annexation benefits the vast majority of a cities residents... Tcheuchter"

    And that we know, is the collection of revenue only. It does not benefit those annexed under protest, it just confiscates revenue from those to spread to the "benefit the vast majority of city residents".

    I've seen it too many times. Annexed residents just foot the bill, they gain little if anything as a result.

  • mmtlash May 17, 2012

    not that it matters to the average person but I have a feeling we have seen the end of the era of North Carolina cities making the "top fastest growing" list since it will be extremely difficult for the cities to expand their borders anymore. Perhaps they can work with their county to make development outside of city limits much more restricted to prevent booming suburban development just outside the city limits (why build a house just inside the city limits when you can build it just outside and know that there's a good chance you will never be annexed).

  • WRALSUCKS May 17, 2012

    "Those who live outside a city reap all the benefits but don't pay their share."


    I don't use the water, sewer, garbage collection, sidewalks, schools, libraries (I pay my own way in Wake County as a non resident), police (fire I pay for), and my job is 20 miles away in another town (in which I and my employer pay significant taxes). What is it that I'm freeloading on exactly?

    Oh, I don't pay for a bloated bureaucracy that I chose not to support?

    You're right.

  • sunshine1040 May 17, 2012

    I pay raleigh taxes every time I go up there to shop or buy gas there just as I paid Fayetteville long before I was moved into the city limits. What have I got since the big bang a big garbage can and less police patrols on my street the only time a city cop is on my street is when called

  • Mr. Middle of the Road May 17, 2012

    Cities are where the jobs and conveniences are. But somebody has to pay for the infrastucture to support the factories and stores. And that is city residents. Those who live outside a city reap all the benefits but don't pay their share. Really not all that different from those welfare louts.

  • retiredcfcc May 17, 2012

    The cities want annexations for "ONE REASON" to collect more taxes so they can feed the "deadbeats" in the cities that are on welfare. Don't believe about "deadbeats" just ride around Goldsboro and look at those deadbeats, sitting on porches, around the court house steps. Notice the wine drinkers in the same area, John St., Walnut St. Slocumb St. Wouldn't work in a pie factory. But, will live off of the taxpayers. So, to support the inner city, just annex a new area for the revenue to keep up the deadbeats.

  • ssvoiceofsanity May 17, 2012

    I live on family farm land and have watched the clayton city limits inch closer and closer, I don't have city/county water or sewer and I pay clayton fire and rescue tax every year when I pay county property taxes. My family has lived there over 100 years and I have no desire to live in the city limits no matter how many subdivision they put around me. I appreciate these new bills.

  • tayled May 17, 2012

    Annexing a section by a municipality, without the say of the people directly affected, is the same as taxation without representation and should be patently illegal.