Bill Summary for H 845 (2011-2012)

Summary date: 

May 3 2011
S.L. 2011-396

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2011-2012 Session
House Bill 845 (Public) Filed Wednesday, April 6, 2011
TO REFORM THE INVOLUNTARY ANNEXATION LAWS OF NORTH CAROLINA.
Intro. by LaRoque, Dollar.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute makes the following changes to 1st edition.
Recodifies selected provisions of Part 3 of Article 4A of GS Chapter 160A (Annexation by cities of 5,000 or more) and places those provisions in the new Part 7 created in Section 8 of this act as follows: (1) GS 160A 49.1 as GS 160A 58.57, (2) GS 160A 49.2 as GS 160A 58.58, (3) GS 160A 49.3 as GS 160A 58.59, (4) GS 160A 51 as GS 160A 58.61, and (5) GS 160A 52 as GS 160A 58.62. Repeals the remaining provisions of Part 3 of Article 4A in GS Chapter 160A. Provides that the proposed new Part 7 of Article 4A of GS Chapter 160A created by this act is as amended by the recodified provisions of Part 3 of Article 4A.
Retitles new Part 7 as Annexations Initiated by Municipalities (was, Involuntary Annexation by Municipalities). Adds provision to proposed GS 160A-58.50 (Declaration of Policy) declaring it to be essential for citizens to have an effective voice in annexations that are initiated by municipalities.
Amends the definition for contiguous area to clarify that contiguity cannot be established by a connecting corridor that consists solely of a street or street right-of-way. Adds definitions for (1) eligible property owner, (2) necessary land connection, (3) and property owner. Clarifies that among the prerequisites for annexation, the municipality exercising its authority to annex an area provide a statement setting forth the plans for providing the area proposed to be annexed each major municipal service on substantially the same basis and in the same manner as those services are provided within the rest of the municipality prior to the annexation. Directs a municipality to provide, in a timely fashion, information requested by a rural fire department (providing service in the area to be annexed) in order to respond to the municipality’s written request for a statement of the impact of the annexation on the department.
Amends the conditions with which a municipality is required to comply when fixing new boundaries to add the requirement that if any portion of a parcel of property is used, the entire parcel of real property as recorded in the deed transferring the title is to be included. Makes organizational and clarifying changes to the conditions with which a municipal governing board must comply in fixing new municipal boundaries. Moves the term necessary land connection to the definitions section in proposed GS 160A-58.51.
Enacts new GS 160A-58.55 (procedure for annexation) to require any municipal governing board to first pass a resolution of consideration identifying the proposed area as under consideration for annexation. States that the resolution may have a metes and bounds description or a map, remains effective for two years after adoption, and must be filed with the city clerk. Requires publication of the notice of adoption of the resolution of consideration once a week for two successive weeks, as specified, and requires mailing a copy of the resolution of consideration to all owners of real property in the area to be annexed.
Allows the municipal governing body to adopt a resolution of intent to proceed with annexation of some or all of the area described in the resolution at least one year after adoption of the resolution of consideration. Requires the resolution of intent to describe the boundaries of the areas considered for annexation. Requires that the notice of public informational meeting and public hearing be combined and include, among other items, information on becoming a customer and paying for water or sewer service and a clear description of the distinction between the informational meeting and the hearing. Requires publication for the informational meeting once a week for at least two successive weeks prior to the meeting, with publication on the same day each week, as specified. Requires notice of the meeting to be mailed by first class mail to the owners of real property located within the area to be annexed. Requires that a summary of the annexation and time lines, a summary of available statutory remedies, and the form for requesting extension of water and sewer lines be distributed at the public hearing. Permits the municipal governing board to adopt an annexation ordinance no sooner than the 10th day after the public hearing and no later than the 90th day following the public hearing. Requires the annexation ordinance to set the effective date for annexation on June 30 of either that year or the following year.
Provides that if the County Tax Assessor certifies that at least 60% of the real property owners have signed petitions to deny the annexation, then the annexation is terminated, and the municipality cannot begin the involuntary annexation process again on that area until 36 months have passed. Provides additional guidelines governing reporting to the Local Government Commission on the provision of services to the annexed area.
Generally requires that services must be provided on substantially the same basis and in the same manner as within corporate city limits. Provides that fire, police, solid waste collection, and street maintenance must be in place on the date of annexation. Requires that water and sewer service to the annexed area must be in place within three and one-half years of the effective date of the annexation ordinance. Sets out the process under which the municipality is to provide water and sewer line connections at no or reduced costs other than periodic fees to all property owners who request the service. Prohibits a municipality from charging any property owner within the annexation area for the installation or use of the water or sewer system unless the property is a customer of, or has requested to become a customer of, the water and sewer system. Provides additional timelines and details for services extended to the annexed area.
Makes conforming changes to GS 160A-58.57 (Contract with rural fire department) and GS 160A-58.59 (Contract with private solid waste collection firms).
Transfers the current process for appeal to superior court alleging material injury to the owner of real property within an annexation area due to the failure of the municipal governing board to comply with the annexation procedure or meet the requirements for annexation under GS 160A-58.50 through proposed GS 160A-58.60. Provides timelines for filing the petition, requirements as to the content of the petition, and criteria regarding requesting a stay of the operation of the annexation ordinance pending the outcome of the judicial review. Directs the court to review and take evidence on specified matters and provides possible remedies for the court. Provides that either party may appeal the final judgment of the superior court to the Court of Appeals under the Rules of Civil Procedure.
Enacts new GS 160A-58.63 to require the municipality to use methods calculated to provide reasonably accurate results in determining population and the degree of land subdivision for purposes of meeting the requirements in proposed GS 160A-58.54, regarding the character of the area to be annexed.
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 North Carolina.
Enacts new subsection (b1) to GS 160A-31, directing the governing board of a municipality to annex by ordinance any area one-eighth of the aggregate external boundaries of which are contiguous to the municipality’s boundaries if (1) two-thirds of the households in an area petitioning for annexation under the statute have incomes that are 200% or less than the most recently published U.S. Census Bureau poverty thresholds and (2) the petition requesting annexation is signed by owners of at minimum 75% of the parcels of real property in the area. 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 two-thirds 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 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.
Enacts new GS 160A-58.90 to require that annexations made under Article 4A of GS Chapter 160A be recorded and reported in the same manner as under GS 160A-29. Also requires any written agreement with a person having a freehold interest in real property to be recorded in the register of deeds office in the county where the real property is located in order for the agreement to be enforceable.
Includes a severability clause in the act.
Effective when the act becomes law (was, effective July 1, 2011) and applies to annexations initiated by municipalities on or after that date, and to petitions for annexation under Part 1 of Article 4A of GS Chapter 160A presented on or after that date (was, applies to annexations for which a petition has been received). Provides that annexations initiated by any action (was, annexations for which a resolution of intent has been adopted) prior to the effective date of this act, but for which no annexation ordinance has been adopted, must terminate; however, such annexations may be reinitiated in compliance with Part 7 of Article 4A of GS Chapter 160A as enacted by this act.

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