In North Carolina, local governments may incorporate, or annex, tracts of land within the city or county limits regardless of the unincorporated landowner’s support or resistance to the movement. Having spent some time working for the federal court in Wyoming, in my younger days, I know something about the core belief in remaining “off the grid” — whether for tax purposes, philosophical purposes, or otherwise.
Yesterday, the North Carolina Senate voted 38-11 in favor of Senate Bill 27, which will place a moratorium on local government annexation powers until July 1, 2012. According to Senator Andrew Brock, the Bill’s sponsor, the purpose of the moratorium is to grant a “time-out” and allow interested parties the opportunity to work out any necessary changes in the State annexation law.
And for those annexation processes already in motion? The Bill is express:
Annexation Process Commenced, But Not Yet Adopted
“If any annexation proceeding has been initiated under those Parts prior to the date this act becomes effective but the annexation ordinance has not yet been adopted, any provision of law requiring any action or notice by the municipality or any person within a certain period of time is tolled during the suspension of authority provided by this section.”
Annexation Ordinance Adopted, But Not Yet Effective
“An annexation ordinance adopted under Part 2 or 3 of Article 4A of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes that has an effective date on or after the day this act becomes law shall not become effective until July 1, 2012, unless the municipality by ordinance adopts a new effective date later than July 1, 2012, for the annexation ordinance.”
Finally, any litigation pending in State court challenging an annexation is stayed upon enactment of the general law.
Senate Bill 27 will face one more vote in the State Senate before advancing to the House of Representatives. We will keep an eye on this interesting piece of legislation.
Mike Thelen is a lawyer in Womble Carlyle’s Real Estate Litigation practice group. He regularly represents a wide variety of clients in land use and land development issues, from local governments to businesses, in both state and federal venues throughout North Carolina.