Bill passes House to exempt town of Rockwell from satellite annexation limit

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 4, 2021

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — A bill that passed the N.C. House and sits in the Senate would add the town of Rockwell to a growing list of municipalities exempt from a 10% cap on satellite annexations.

The request came after a unanimous vote by town aldermen in March. Rockwell Mayor Beau Taylor told the Post the town submitted a letter to the county’s four lawmakers — Reps. Wayne Sasser, Harry Warren, Julia Howard and Sen. Carl Ford — indicating it would like to be exempt from the 10% limitation and allow the annexation of additional satellite parcels.

Taylor said there are currently no economic development projects on the horizon in Rockwell at this time, but that this request will allow for future projects as the town “doesn’t have enough space currently.”

Ford said he and lawmakers worked with the House to add Rockwell’s request in March to an existing de-annexation bill in the House filed in February for the city of Greensboro. That bill, House Bill 164, passed the House with only one “no” vote from Rep. George Cleveland, a Republican from Onslow County. It was referred to the Senate’s Rules and Operations committee on March 29.

Voluntary annexations allow land not adjacent to the town to be added into its municipal limits. Ford said annexations are needed when businesses eye development outside of the town or city’s corporate limits but still want city services like sewer and water.

The current law limits the annexation to 10% of the town’s size, but legislation has allowed more than 100 municipalities to be exempt from the limit. In Rowan County, the cities of Salisbury and Kannapolis as well as the towns of China Grove, Granite Quarry, Spencer and Landis are currently exempt.

But municipalities and counties need to continue following the process, Ford said, which involves petitioning all the real property owners in the area being discussed for annexation, as he frequently hears from citizens concerned with the annexation. Additionally, some towns and cities may eventually decide the annexed area is no longer needed, such as Greensboro in H.B. 164.

Rep. Jon Hardister, a Republican from Guilford, filed the bill and is the primary sponsor. He said on the House floor March 24 that Greensboro had a 10-acre tract of land voluntarily annexed more than a decade ago with the assumption there would be development.

Because H.B. 164 is a local bill, it will not require the governor’s signature if passed by the Senate.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at or call her at 704-797-4246.

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