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East Spencer thinks growth with addition to annexation bill

By Liz Moomey
liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

EAST SPENCER — With their eyes on growth, town leaders reached out to state legislators and asked to be added to a satellite annexation bill written for China Grove that’s working its way through the N.C. House.

The Board of Aldermen passed a resolution May 6 asking to be added to House Bill 171. A companion bill was passed in the Senate in April and was sent to the House for consideration.

The bill would exempt the two towns from the 10% cap on voluntary annexation. Other municipalities in Rowan County are already exempt from the cap, including Salisbury, Landis and Spencer as well as more than 100 municipalities statewide.

East Spencer Mayor Barbara Mallett said she is grateful to the county and its leadership for expansion opportunities. Several years ago, county leaders recognized the need for towns to grow and think outside their boundaries, Mallett said.

On Wednesday, after East Spencer was added to the Senate version of the bill — S.B. 80 — it passed its second reading in the House. The bill is scheduled for a vote again Tuesday.

The exclusion allows for properties — commercial and residential — to benefit from municipal water and sewer service, increased police and fire protection, and general town services.

Reps. Harry Warren, R-76, Larry Pittman, R-83, and Julia Howard, R-77, are the primary sponsors of the House bill, which is now in the Senate. Sen. Carl Ford, R-33, is the primary sponsor of the Senate annexation bill.

“Satellite (annexation) may be the thing they need to broaden and grow the tax base,” Warren said.

Warren said East Spencer is anticipating the arrival of Chewy, an online pet supplier that will bring 1,200 jobs to the county, and the prospect of getting an interstate interchange.

Mallett said adding the town to the bill was forward-thinking.

“We will be at the door of opportunity when it comes,” she said. “We need to be ready and proactive to build the city. … Why not be prepared?”

China Grove’s board passed a resolution in November asking to be exempt from the 10% area cap on voluntary satellite annexations. Mayor Lee Withers previously said that multiple business leaders came to him interested in being in the town limits. China Grove had less than 100 acres left before it hit the 10% maximum.

If the legislation is passed, property owners who want to be annexed by China Grove or East Spencer would have to apply with the towns.

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