Wednesday, the League issued the following press release expressing disappointment with Senate annexation actions.
Raleigh, N.C. - City and town leaders and local business owners are in Raleigh today to make one last effort to stop - or at least slow down - House Bill 925 that stops city-initiated annexation in North Carolina. After dramatic reform to North Carolina's annexation laws in 2011, the General Assembly is even further restricting the ability of cites and towns to manage growth and maintain the quality of life that attracts new businesses.
In the early days of the General Assembly short session, the North Carolina State Senate passed two bills that likely end city-initiated annexations in North Carolina. House Bill 5 overturns lawful annexations in nine cities - Asheville, Fayetteville, Goldsboro, Kinston, Lexington, Marvin, Rocky Mount, Southport and Wilmington - and prevents the cities from proposing annexations in those areas for 12 years. HB 925 effectively ends city-initiated annexation by requiring cities to obtain a majority vote on referendum in proposed annexation areas. The North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM), on behalf of its 543 member municipalities, has been working to maintain city-initiated annexation as a tool for growth in the state.
"Should this bill become law, it will be a serious detriment to growth, and will be damaging to North Carolina cities and towns and the state as a whole," said Latimer B. Alexander, IV, NCLM President and High Point Council Member. "Cities and towns will continue to incur costs of providing services to those who live right on the edge of town, near town residents. Although voters in the proposed annexation areas benefit from the services provided by the city, they will not vote for a referendum that would lead to having to actually pay for the services. Resting the annexation decision solely on a referendum of only those in the annexed area motivated to vote will almost certainly leave the current city residents holding the bag."
S. Ellis Hankins, NCLM Executive Director, added: "Annexation laws in North Carolina have been applauded by urban planning experts nationwide because they allowed cities to grow and expand boundaries as the areas just outside of the border become urban in nature. Many attribute the growth and economic stability of our towns to these laws. Effectively ending city-initiated annexations could have a far-reaching impact on the state's overall economic growth and stability."
The bill now moves to the House for approval. Since the Senate used a House bill number, the only way to amend the bill is for the House to vote not to concur with the Senate-passed bill and send it to a House-Senate conference committee.
"The League is still committed to representing the interests of its 543 member cities and towns. Our mayors and council members are disappointed. But it is our citizens who suffer the ultimate loss," said Hankins.