Rowan reps deal with annexation legislation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Staff report
Bills dealing with annexation highlighted legislation filed this week by Rowan County’s delegation in the General Assembly.
One bill would allow Kannapolis to proceed with a voluntary annexation in southern Rowan while two others would require a vote of people subject to involuntary annexation anywhere in the state and enact a moratorium on those annexations while legislators deliberate.
Rep. Fred Steen and Rep. Lorene Coates are primary sponsors of the House bill that would let Kannapolis add 372 acres along Interstate 85. Rep. Linda Johnson of Kannapolis signed on as a co-sponsor. Sen. Andrew Brock is the primary sponsor of a companion bill the Senate.
Legislation is necessary because the land lies closer to the town limits of Landis than to Kannapolis. The owners of the property hope for economic development there and see Kannapolis as a better partner in that effort in part, they say, because the city is home to the developing N.C. Research Campus.
Filed Thursday, the House bill has been referred to a local government committee. The Senate bill, filed Wednesday, has been referred to a finance committee.
Steen, a Republican former Landis mayor, is also one of four primary sponsors ó including two other Republicans and one Democrat ó of a pair of bills filed Thursday that would require a vote of people in areas to be involuntarily annexed and a year-long moratorium on such annexations across the state.
It follows legislation Steen and Coates, a Democrat from Salisbury, filed in February that would prohibit Rowan County cities and towns from executing involuntary annexations until June 30, 2010. That bill remains in committee.
Brock, a Republican from Davie County, filed a bill Feb. 11 that would require a referendum before involuntary annexations, if the people being annexed file a petition requesting a vote. That bill has not advanced.
A joint legislative study commission earlier this year recommended giving voters a choice on annexation and a moratorium to give lawmakers time to debate whether current law should be changed.
“We’re trying to stick to what the commission had requested,” Steen said Friday. Other annexation bills may be introduced, he added. “Hopefully, leadership will let them be heard in both the House and the Senate.”
Rowan residents have played a role in the latest effort to change involuntary annexation laws. A group that successfully fended off an annexation attempt by Salisbury along the N.C. 150 corridor west of the city last year has more recently made its voice heard in Raleigh, along with other anti-annexation groups.
Coates and Steen are also two of four primary sponsors of a bill to allocate nearly $956,000 annually for the next two years to support two Rowan-Cabarrus Community College satellite campuses. Steen said those are a cosmetology school in Kannapolis and a business and technology center in Concord.
Steen said the state’s Board of Community Colleges requested the legislation.
The other primary sponsors of that bill, filed Thursday, are Johnson and Rep. Jeff Barnhart of Concord, both Republicans.