05/25/12 — Annexation bill gets House OK

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Annexation bill gets House OK

By From Staff And Wire Reports
Published in News on May 25, 2012 1:46 PM

Goldsboro residents in the Buck Swamp and Salem Church Road areas are one step closer to being deannexed from the city after the House passed a local bill which, when effective, cancels nine contentious annexation attempts by municipalities throughout the state.

Goldsboro's Phase 11 area is included in House Bill 5, which, as a local bill, would not require a signature from the governor.

The bill, along with another which reforms the involuntary annexation process, have been placed on the May 29 calendar for a final vote.

House Bill 5 was approved 66-49 and would block or reverse annexations by Rocky Mount, Asheville, Kinston, Lexington, Wilmington, Marvin, Southport and Fayetteville in addition to Goldsboro. The legislation blocks a repeat of the nine annexations for at least 12 years.

The House voted 70-44 in favor of the reform bill, which would allow areas being annexed to stop the municipal expansion with a referendum requiring a majority vote. That bill also would require a three-year delay in any other annexation attempts of the targeted area. The margin suggested it might be difficult for supporters to override a veto if Gov. Beverly Perdue stepped in.

A 1959 law allows the state's cities to expand by annexing growing but unincorporated areas whether residents like it or not, a power permitted municipalities in about a half-dozen other states. Landowners complained for years that cities abused involuntary annexation by forcing them to pay additional city taxes yet sometimes waiting for years before receiving promised services.

Supporters of North Carolina's involuntary annexation laws have credited them with allowing cities and towns to grow along with suburban sprawl. While many U.S. cities have seen middle-class residents flee their urban core to homes in successive rings of suburbs, taking their property tax revenues with them, North Carolina cities were able to avoid becoming the empty hole of a doughnut.

"The states that don't have annexation, the cities become slums," said Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank. "I support rural North Carolina, but if our cities don't progress ... it'll hurt economic development. It'll hurt job growth."

Opponents said North Carolina's future without forced annexation can be seen in Rust Belt cities like Detroit.

"It's a city whose tax base is so bad it can't adequately fund its schools" or police department, Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg. "If that's what you want to develop in North Carolina, it's coming. ... You are about to make it much more difficult for our healthy and vibrant cities, our healthy and vibrant towns."