03/01/05 — Bill gives annexation areas a say in the process

View Archive

Bill gives annexation areas a say in the process

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 1, 2005 1:47 PM

A bill in the state House would give residents of areas under consideration for annexation a say in the process.

Republicans Nelson Dollar of Wake County and Trudi Walend, who represents Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties, are the primary sponsors of House Bill 302.

The bill would require a vote of the people in the affected area if 10 percent of the registered voters in the affected area opposed the annexation.

The vote would have to be held within 90 days after it was ordered by the local governing body.

If a majority of the votes cast in the area proposed for annexation were in favor of annexation, the annexation ordinance would pass. If a majority of the votes cast in that referendum were against annexation, the annexation would not go into effect.

Residents of an area northwest of Goldsboro are currently battling efforts to bring them into the city.

North Carolina is one of a handful of states that allows a municipality to annex an area without a vote of approval from the residents in the area.

Representative Louis Pate Jr., said he believes that the bill ill need some adjusting.

"I believe the percentage will go up, and will be about 20 to 25 percent instead of just the 10 percent required now from registered voters," Pate said.

He said that he would support the bill if the percentage was about 20 percent or more.

"I think there's a lot of interest in the bill," Pate said. "There have been some municipalities a little too eager in the annexation procedure and residents have been angered about tactics."

Pate said questions about annexation laws have cropped up across the state because some municipalities "have been making some land grabs."

"Cities have to grow, but property owners should have a say," Pate said.

Under current law, North Carolina property owners have a chance to express their opinions at a public hearing before the annexation vote by the local government, but the town or city council does not have to heed them.

Representative Larry Bell, a Democrat representing Sampson and Wayne County, said he hadn't read the bill in its entirety.

Bell said that he'd discussed the issue with various people, and has received emails from Goldsboro officials.

"The general consensus that I've received is that most want the annexation laws to remain the same," Bell said.

But Bell said that he is keeping an open mind on the subject.

"I was annexed into Clinton several years ago, so I understand both sides of the issue," Bell said. "This is not only a concern in Wayne County, but all over the state."

Opponents of the state's annexation process have taken the fight to the courts in the last year in Wilmington, Eden, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville and Goldsboro.

Goldsboro's annexation case centers around the city's decision last year to annex land on the east and west sides of Salem Church Road, and the north and south sides of Buck Swamp Road.

In January, a Superior Court judge decided that the city needed to amend its annexation report, and give notice for a new informational meeting and public hearing.

The details of that decision are still being worked out between lawyers for both sides of the case.