INVOLUNTARY ANNEXATION REFORM.

View NCGA Bill Details2011-2012 Session
House Bill 531 (Public) Filed Wednesday, March 30, 2011
TO PROVIDE ONE PROCESS FOR INVOLUNTARY ANNEXATION FOR ALL MUNICIPALITIES AND TO MAKE OTHER CHANGES TO THE ANNEXATION PROCESS IN NORTH CAROLINA.
Intro. by L. Brown, Dollar, LaRoque.

Status: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House (House Action) (Mar 31 2011)
H 531

Bill Summaries:

  • Summary date: Mar 30 2011 - More information

    Extension of Corporate Limits by Petition. Amends GS 160A-31(a) (annexation by petition), adding that the petition presented to the governing board of a municipality need not be signed by the owners of real property if the real property is wholly exempt from property taxation under the Constitution and laws of NC. Enacts new subsection (b1) to GS 160A-31, directing the governing board of a municipality to annex by ordinance any area, one-third of the aggregate external boundaries of which are contiguous to the municipality’s boundaries, upon presentation of a petition signed by the owners of at least 75% of the real property parcels in that area, if 51% of the households in the area petitioning for annexation have incomes 200% or less than the most recently published U.S. Census Bureau poverty thresholds. New GS 160A-31(b2) sets out the corresponding petition format. Enacts new subsection (i) to GS 160A-31, authorizing the governing board of any municipality to annex by ordinance any distressed area, defined as an area in which at least 51% of the households have incomes 200% or less than the most recently published U.S. Census Bureau poverty thresholds, contiguous to the municipality’s boundaries upon presentation of a petition signed by at least one adult resident of at least 75% of the resident households in the relevant area. New GS 160A-31(j) sets out the corresponding petition format. Enacts new subsection (k) to GS 160A-31, requiring petitioners petitioning under subsection (b1) or (i) to submit to the governing board any reasonable evidence to demonstrate the area meets the required poverty thresholds. Permits petitioners to submit names, addresses, and social security numbers to the clerk, who will submit the information to the Department of Revenue (Department). Directs the Department to provide a summary report to the municipality listing incomes for households in the petitioning area. Makes a conforming change to GS 160A-31(c), requiring the clerk to receive the Department’s report before certifying the petition. Amends GS 160A-31(d), clarifying that persons residing or owning property in or near the area described in the petition and persons residing or owning property in the municipality will have the opportunity to be heard at the public hearing. Authorizes the governing board to make the annexing ordinance effective immediately or on the next June 30 following the ordinance’s passage (currently, on any specified date within six months after passage). Amends GS 160A-31(f), clarifying that an area is contiguous if the area either abuts directly on the municipal boundary or is separated from the municipal boundary by the width of a street or street right-of-way, a creek, or river not exceeding 120 feet in width, or one of the other listed structures. Adds that a connecting corridor consisting solely of a street or street right-of-way may not establish contiguity for annexation purposes. Makes other conforming changes.
    Involuntary Annexation by Cities. Repeals Part 2 of Article 4A of GS Chapter 160A, which provided for annexation by cities of less than 5,000. Changes the title of Part 3 of Article 4A of GS Chapter 160A to Involuntary Annexation by Cities. Amends GS 160A-46 (authority to annex), authorizing the governing board of any municipality to extend the corporate limits of the municipality to include contiguous areas needing meaningful services that cannot be resolved without extension of municipal services under Part 3. Specifies that the municipality bears the burden of proving that the annexation is in the owners’ best interests, and the municipality must show that it is competent and able to provide all meaningful services to the entire area proposed to be annexed. Amends GS 160A-47, clarifying that a municipality exercising authority under Part 3 must show that previous annexations are substantially completed, defined as at least 85% implemented, make plans to extend meaningful services to areas needing such services, and prepare a planning report to provide services. Requires the plan for extending municipal services to also provide for extending water and sewer services, in addition to services currently extended. Specifies that a contract with the sheriff for additional police patrol by the sheriff’s department will qualify as police protection under Part 3. Clarifies that a contract with a rural fire department to provide fire protection is an acceptable method of providing fire protection only until waterlines are made available under existing municipal policies for the extension of waterlines and the rural fire department is similarly equipped with fire suppression equipment and staff as the existing municipal fire protection services. Also clarifies that a contract with a private firm for solid waste collection services is an acceptable method of providing solid waste collection services only if the contract is one of the methods of solid waste collection services throughout the municipality or the area proposed to be annexed at the time of the resolution to consider annexation. Clarifies that when the municipality can demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the installation of sewer is not physically (currently, economically) feasible or would be environmentally damaging due to the unique topography or environmental qualities of the area, the municipality must provide septic system maintenance and repair service until sewer service is provided to properties similarly situated. Requires plans to call for construction of trunk water mains, sewer outfall lines, and sewer and water lines to be completed within three (rather than two) years. Specifies that a contract with a county authority or other third party water/sewer authority qualifies as the provision of meaningful services by the municipality. Requires a rural fire department to make available to the city not later than 60 days (rather than 30 days) all information related to the annexation’s impact, upon request. Clarifies that the municipality’s report must include a statement showing the annexation’s impact on city finances and services projected over five years, beginning with the first-year expenditures for meaningful services. Makes other clarifying and conforming changes.
    Amends GS 160A-48 (character of area to be annexed), clarifying that at least one-third (rather than one-eighth) of the aggregate external boundaries of the area to be annexed must coincide with the municipal boundary, as a standard of annexation. Adds that a majority of property owners must have existing water service, sewer or septic service, police protection, or fire protection that is inadequate and clearly poses a threat to the health and safety of the area, as certified by the county health director or the State Health Director, and the property owners cannot remedy the threat through public or private means, as another standard of annexation. Requires that an area developed for urban purposes must meet the following standards: (1) the area has a total resident population equal to at least three persons (rather than two and three tenths persons) for each acre of land included in the area’s boundaries, and (2) the area is developed so at least 60% of the total number of lots and tracts are used for residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, or governmental purposes (deletes other standards). Clarifies that “necessary land connection” means an area that does not exceed 10% (rather than 25%) of the total area to be annexed. Makes conforming and clarifying changes.
    Enacts new GS 160A-48.5, requiring a municipality located wholly or primarily in another county to have approval by resolution of that county’s board of commissioners before the municipality annexes real property in the county. Directs the county board of commissioners to conduct a public hearing before the adoption of a resolution approving annexation, with notice provided at least 30 days but not more than 45 days before the hearing in a newspaper with general circulation in the county.
    Amends GS 160A-49 (procedure for annexation), requiring any municipal governing board wishing to annex territory under Part 3 to pass a resolution of consideration (currently, the resolution must state the intent to consider annexation) and send notification to the board of commissioners in the county in which the territory to be annexed is located and to the affected property owners by certified mail. Requires the resolution to also include a detailed map and a metes and bounds description of the area under consideration. Directs the applicable county board of commissioners to set a date for a public hearing on the question of annexation. Requires the notice of public hearing to state that the report supplied by the municipality will also be available at the public library closest to the municipal clerk’s office. Requires the notice to be posted on the municipality’s website at least 30 days before the public informational meeting, if applicable. Also requires the notice to include current zoning and pending zoning changes, and the name, email, and telephone number for a contact person of the municipality. Requires the notice of the public informational meeting, which occurs before the public hearing, to include four specified items. Provides that, after approval by the voters, if required, and after one year elapses after the date of adoption of the resolution of consideration, the municipal governing board may adopt a resolution stating the board’s intent to consider annexation of the approved territory. Authorizes the governing board to adopt an ordinance extending the municipality’s corporate limits at any regular or special meeting held no sooner than 45 days following the adoption of the resolution of intent (rather than the tenth day following the public hearing) and not later than 90 days following the public hearing. Requires the annexation ordinance fix the effective date of annexation on June 30 next following adoption of the ordinance (currently, fixed on any date not less than 70 days nor more than 400 days from passage). Makes taxation of real and personal property subject to GS 160A-58.10 (tax of newly annexed territory) on the effective date of annexation. Authorizes a person to apply for a writ of mandamus not earlier than two years (rather than one year) and not later than 48 months (rather than 15 months) from the annexation effective date, if the person owning property in the annexed territory believes the municipality has not followed through on plans to provide services. Permits the judge of superior court to grant relief by requiring the municipality to complete service infrastructure within a stated time, as specified. Makes other conforming and clarifying changes. Amends GS 160A-49(k), permitting a property owner to petition the Local Government Commission for abatement of taxes as described, if all necessary water or sewer lines are not complete at the end of three years (rather than two years) after the annexation ordinance effective date, provided the petition is filed not more than 90 days (rather than 60 days) following the expiration of the three year period. Makes a conforming change, replacing two year period with three year period throughout subsection (k). Enacts new GS 160A-49(m), requiring a city to complete at least 85% of the plan to provide water or sewer services to an annexed area and have remaining items on the plan prepared for completion before adopting a subsequent plan to provide services. Allows a city to have only two incomplete plans to provide services at any given time.
    Amends GS 160A-49.3(b) requiring the city to provide written notice of the resolution of intent to annex to all private solid waste collection firms serving the area, at least four weeks before the hearing (rather than the informational meeting).
    Amends GS 160A-50 (appeal) to allow any person owning property in the annexed territory who believes the person will suffer material injury, as specified, to file a petition in the appropriate superior court within 90 days (rather than 60 days) following the passage of the annexation ordinance. Makes conforming and technical changes.
    Amends GS 160A-53 (definitions applicable to Part 3) to define meaningful services as (1) central water and sewer services; (2) municipal police protection; (3) fire protection; and (4) at least two of: land use planning, street lights, street maintenance, or parks and recreation. Adds a definition for an area in need of meaningful services. Makes other clarifying changes.
    Referendum before Involuntary Annexation Ordinance. Enacts new GS 160A-58.11, permitting any registered voter in the proposed annexation area subject to an involuntary annexation to request a referendum petition containing the description and a legible map of the area to be annexed, following the adoption of the resolution to consider annexation. Directs the municipal governing board to provide the registered voter referendum petition forms that meet eight enumerated criteria. Requires the governing board to notify and provide the board of elections a map and description of the proposed annexation area. Sets forth applicable timelines and signature requirements for the referendum petition, and directs the board of elections to investigate and certify the sufficiency of the petition within 15 days following filing. Details procedures for abandoning the proposed involuntary annexation or for setting a date for the referendum to coincide with the next general municipal election. Includes format to be included on the ballot. If the referendum for annexation does not receive a majority of votes cast or results in a tie, then the municipal governing body cannot adopt the annexation ordinance or begin a separate involuntary annexation process for the same area for at least 60 months.
    Makes additional conforming changes, and repeals SL 1985-92 (annexation referendum in Craven County). Specifies that any reference to Part 2 of Article 4A in GS Chapter 160A is a reference to Part 3, as detailed.
    Enacts new GS 160A-58.12 (applicable to annexation of noncontiguous areas), requiring a municipality located wholly or primarily in another county to have approval by resolution of that county’s board of commissioners before the municipality annexes real property in the county. Directs the county board of commissioners to conduct a public hearing before the adoption of a resolution approving annexation, with notice provided at least 10 days but not more than 30 days before the hearing in a newspaper with general circulation in the county.
    Applies to any annexation with a resolution adopted before the date the act becomes law, and applies to any annexation that is not yet effective.


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