RALEIGH — The N.C. Senate has approved two bills designed to protect private property owners in the state against forced annexations.
A release last week from Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger said House Bill 5 exercises the legislature’s “constitutional authority to establish municipalities and set municipal boundaries by de-annexing areas of Kinston, Lexington, Rocky Mount, Wilmington, Asheville, Marvin, Southport, Goldsboro and Fayetteville that were involuntarily annexed. The bill also prohibits these municipalities from forcibly re-annexing these areas for 12 years.”
That means Marvin’s annexation in 2008 of property in unincorporated Union County is now null and void.
The state tried to pass a similar law to House Bill 5 last year, to halt forced annexations if 60 percent of landowners in annexed areas signed a petition opposing it. But a superior court judged overturned that earlier this year.
So to make sure House Bill 5 was supported, a second bill was passed.
House Bill 925 requires a referendum vote of an area’s registered voters – both landowners and renters – prior to that area’s annexation by a municipality. If a majority of the voters oppose the annexation, the municipality may not move forward with an involuntary annexation process for a minimum of three years.
House Bill 5 passed 31-13 and House Bill 925 passed 30-14.
Both bills also passed Wednesday, May 23, in the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Craig Horne (R-Union) said this action was long overdue.
“The League of Municipalities knew it was coming, as did the affected municipalities,” he said. “They knew that both houses of this legislature were opposed to involuntary annexation. The municipalities went ahead anyway.”
Horne said as a former town council member, he understands the benefits and values of being in a municipality, but he respects the rights of those that choose otherwise.
The bills will now have a chance to go to the full house, but Jordan Shaw with Speaker Thom Tillis’ office said he wasn’t sure when the bills would be up for a vote.