Temporary moratorium on involuntary annexation bill moving forward

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staff report
The House Select Committee on Municipal Annexation voted Monday to move forward with a bill that would impose a statewide temporary moratorium on involuntary annexation through June 30, 2009.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners has urged the county’s legislative delegation to support the moratorium, which is also supported by N.C. 150 area residents who fought the city of Salisbury’s recent forced annexation attempt.
The city called off that annexation process in mid-April.
The next step for the bill is consideration by the N.C. House. If passed by the House, the moratorium bill would then move to the state Senate for consideration.
The Republican Joint Caucus issued a press release Tuesday in support of the moratorium.
Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, a member of the House Select Committee on Municipal Annexation, said:
“The temporary moratorium on involuntary annexation will allow for a thorough and thoughtful review of our annexation laws with the goal of proposing reforms to the 2009 session of the General Assembly.
“A key reform will be providing a meaningful voice for homeowners in neighborhoods affected by a proposed involuntary annexation. A citizen’s rights must be protected when government seeks to impose undue burdens on a person’s home and family.”
North Carolina is one of only four states that allow involuntary annexation “without any opportunity for meaningful consultation with property owners in the affected area,” the Republican press release said.
The other states are Tennessee, Idaho, and Kansas.
The GOP leadership said research shows tax increases ranging from 60 percent to more than 100 percent for properties brought into municipalities through involuntary annexation.
N.C. Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Republican Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, also commented on the proposed legislation.”In locations across North Carolina, citizens are seeing their tax obligations substantially increased through the mechanism of involuntary annexation,” Berger said.
“Current North Carolina law totally ignores the property and voting rights of these citizens. Forced annexation makes a mockery of the principle of government by the consent of the governed. We need a time out to take a fresh look at this issue so that a proper balance can be achieved between allowing cities to grow and protecting property and voting rights.”
Stam added, “We need to look again at involuntary annexation as it is used in the 21st century.
“The traditional justifications for the practice, such as filling in donut holes or other gaps, and getting city services to neighborhoods with failing wells or septic tanks, seem to have changed into territorial strategies.”