Lawmakers deal blow to forced annexation efforts statewide

Posted May 24, 2012 3:37 p.m. EDT
Updated May 24, 2012 5:51 p.m. EDT

— The state House voted Thursday to make it much more difficult for cities to expand by annexing land when property owners object and to cancel contentious annexations by nine towns and cities statewide.

Final legislative votes for both bills are expected next week.

The House voted 70-44 to allow areas being annexed to stop the municipal expansion with a referendum requiring a majority vote. The margin of the vote suggests it might be difficult for supporters to override a veto if Gov. Beverly Perdue steps in.

The House also approved a measure that would block or reverse annexations by Rocky Mount, Asheville, Kinston, Lexington, Wilmington, Marvin, Southport, Fayetteville and Goldsboro. Under the bill, the municipalities would be barred from taking another attempt to annex the properties involved for 12 years.

House Minority Leader Joe Hackney said Republican leaders are trying to punish those cities for taking the state to court over the annexations.

"They do not deserve the kind of retaliatory slap that this represents, and it is beneath the dignity of the North Carolina House," said Hackney, D-Orange.

Supporters of the legislation argued that cities have abused their annexation power over the years and that property owners have a right to be protected from cities that are just trying to expand their tax base.

The second bill cannot be blocked by a Perdue veto because it involves local issues.

Citizens activists celebrated with House Speaker Thom Tillis after the votes.