Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Hurdle for the New Annexation Laws Cleared

I've seen many of the letters that were sent to the DOJ by various city officials, and have been tracking this development. The NC League of Municipalities fingerprints appeared to be all over this effort to derail the new laws. They've lost this round and we can all breath easier, but I do expect the cities to find other ways to challenge the new rights of the people that have been restored to city initiated annexations. 

Published: 09:09 PM, Tue Nov 15, 2011
U.S. Department of Justice doesn't object to state law affecting Gates Four annexation


The U.S. Department of Justice found no reason to object to North Carolina's new annexation law, which allows property owners to petition to prevent forced municipal annexations.

The decision likely means that Gates Four will succeed in fending off annexation by Fayetteville unless another challenge is filed in court.

"We are pleased the Department of Justice upheld the law," said Mike Molin, secretary for the Gates Four homeowners association.

This summer, Fayetteville and four other municipalities wrote separate letters asking the Justice Department to review the state law and determine whether it meets the criteria of the U.S. Voting Rights Act, which seeks to ban racial discrimination in elections.

Fayetteville officials, including Mayor Tony Chavonne, argued the legislation is unconstitutional and biased against renters since only property owners can sign petitions to fend off forced annexation.

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division lumped into one case the letters from Fayetteville, Kinston, Goldsboro, Rocky Mount and Marvin, a town just outside Charlotte. The federal agency's response, dated Monday, says it does not impose any objection to how Senate Bill 27 changed the state's annexation laws.
New state law
(read more here: http://fayobserver.com/articles/2011/11/15/1137167 )

Thursday, June 30, 2011

H845 is now the law for "city initiated" Annexations.

At midnight of June 30th, the Annexation Reform Act will become the law of North Carolina.
This represents a HUGE change to a very bad law that was a blemish on the State of North Carolina, whose motto has been "First in Freedom". This is a change of HISTORIC significance.

In my last post, I explained the choices that were before Governor Purdue as H845 sat on her desk. I'm puzzled by the choice that she made.
She could have vetoed this legislation, but she did not. For that we all breath a sigh of relief.

Instead she chose to leave the bill sit untouched for the ten days required by the NC Constitution for the legislation to go into effect without her signature.

The Governor could have signed H845. Instead she chose a 'hands off' approach. WHY? This decision does not show support by her for this legislation. I actually thought there was a chance that she might stand with the people and sign the bill, given the overwhelming bi-partisan support that the legislation has.

Thousands of people and nearly two dozen citizens groups opposed to the practice of forced annexation and the UNC Center for Civil Rights supported the passage of the changes H845 would bring to the annexation laws. This legislation passed the House and the Senate with a STRONG bi-partisan vote. In light of all of the support the legislation had among the people and the overwhelming majority of the Legislature, it is hard to understand why Governor Purdue chose NOT to show genuine support for the bill.

We can thank the Legislators for passing the Annexation Reform Act of 2011. 
The No2wilma group has great pages set up to help you do just that:
Thanks to No2Wilma for putting this together!

NOW we can truly call annexation proposals that are initiated by a municipality "city initiated" annexation.
The NCLM has been trying for years to spin FORCED annexation as 'city initiated'; now they can truthfully call it that to their hearts content.

I want to thank each and every person who wrote a letter, called or emailed a legislator over the years. I thank every local community that stood up and fought a forced annexation win or lose, and contributed to the effort at the Legislature. And every person who made it a point to ask the candidates campaigning to represent them the question of where they stood on ending forced annexation. YOU all made where we are today a reality!! THANK YOU!!

Catherine Heath
StopNCAnnexation Coalition (the coalition is YOU!)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Annexation Legislation Passed by the Legislature!

To All,
A Very Good Year For Annexation Reform!

The 2011 Legislative Session has been a very good year for the effort to obtain real change to the Annexation Laws of NC that helps to protect property rights for all North Carolina citizens. 

It took many years as well as a historic change in the Leadership of the General Assembly, and the journey had its ups and downs, but real change has finally been ratified by the Legislature and is before the Governor. The change will be positive for those living near municipalities and those living inside of municipalities, because the much of the incentive to misuse the law has been removed. 

To achieve this historic change to the law required the efforts of every single person who has spoken up in opposition to the practice and who then took the needed action to be heard loud and clear in the General Assembly, whether through emails, phone calls, visits to legislators, attending events and hearings, or taking the annexation issue to the voting booth. 

Last week at the General Assembly was intense, with the annexation legislation being brought to a final vote and ratified amidst long hours, late nights, and competition with many other Bills. The priority that the new Legislative Leadership gave to the issue of restoring some rights to property owners being targeted by city initiated annexation is much appreciated by StopNCAnnexation and the thousands of people and local Community Groups who have supported this effort to change the law over the last decade. 

What Happened in the Legislature Last Week?

During the week of June 12th, the Annexation Reform Act of 2011 (H845) was taken up by the Senate Finance Committee, voted through on the floor of the Senate, passed to the House for concurrence and ratified on the Floor of the House on June 17th. H845 was sent to the Governor for signature and was received by the Governor on June 20th. 

Our sincere thanks goes out to the House and Senate Leadership, the staff members of the Legislative Leaders, whose hard work on this legislation was critical, to the Sponsors of H845, who worked hard to defend and the legislation and gain support for it, and to ALL the Legislators who voted FOR the Annexation Reform Act and the Local Omnibus Bills H56 & S27. (voting record posted on the SNCA website)

The next step in the progress for this legislation is in the Governor's hands.  

If the Governor takes no action on H845 between now and June 30th, on July 1st the legislation becomes law.  

What Has Been Changed in the Annexation Laws?

H845 changes:
  • No more "small city/large city" special rules
  • One year advance notice from the city considering an area
  • An added provision to allow property owners to obtain water and sewer infrastructure from the annexing municipality to their property at zero to reduced cost
  • Added a provision that allows area property owners to REJECT the annexation proposal
  • Areas that reject an annexation proposed by the city cannot be considered again for three years
For more detailed information about how the Annexation Reform Act changes the law, visit the SNCA website:
What About the Areas Currently Being Forcibly Annexed?

Additional legislation was also passed last week that allows nearly every area currently being forcibly annexed the right to use the Petition to Reject.

Nine Municipalities will have the current attempt to forcibly annex areas made subject to the results of the Petition to Reject. The legislation allows the property owners being annexed by these cities the right to use the Petition to Reject as enacted by H845. Many will be watching this new process in action as these local communities will be the first to use it.

Those cities are: Kinston, Lexington, Rocky Mount, Wilmington, Asheville (Biltmore Lakes), Marvin, Southport, Fayetteville (Gates Four), and Goldsboro.

Three cities in the process of forcibly annexing communities that opposed being annexed that were not included in this special legislation are Burlington, Elizabethtown, and a small area annexed by Asheville. "Why?" is a question that still needs an answer.

All of this legislation is dependent now on what the Governor chooses to do with H845. 
Governor Purdue can choose one of three options;
  • She can VETO H845
  • She can SIGN H845
  • She can allow the bill to remain unsigned without veto for ten days which would allow H845 to become law without her signature.
You can contact the Governor to communicate your support for the passage of H845:

Office of the Governor
Constituent Services Office
116 West Jones Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603
Phone: (800) 662-7952 or (919) 733-2391
Fax: (919) 733-2120

Contact information for Legislators who can be thanked for making this legislation a priority can also be found on the StopNCAnnexation website. 

Thanks to everyone for your sacrifices made for this cause.

Catherine Heath

Friday, May 13, 2011

Update on Annexation Legislation Progress

House Bill 845 - Annexation Reform Act of 2011, passed the Second Reading on the House Floor on Thursday May 12th! 

The Bill passed by vote of 102 for H845, and 13 voting against H845.
As Speaker, Thom Tillis did not vote on H845. 

The Legislators voting against H845 were:
Representative(s) Hugh Blackwell; Larry Brown; George Cleveland and
Representative(s): Alice Bordsen; Beverly Earle; Susan Fisher; Rosa Gill; Ken Goodman; Philip Haire; Susan Hamilton; Grier Martin; Mary Ann Mobley; Larry Womble

Not voting:
Representative(s): Keever; Hastings; Killian; McElraft
H845 will now be on the House Floor Calendar for Monday evening for it's third and final reading. This will be the final House vote to pass H845 on the House side. 

H845 will be sent to the Senate for consideration after the vote on Monday.
The Senate is expected to thoroughly review the provisions of H845 and move it quickly to passage. Additional Legislation to help everyone faced with forced annexation is also expected to be brought forward in the Senate.  

The people finally have a very good piece of legislation moving through the State Legislature after all these years of asking for REAL reform of the annexation laws.

This is legislation that delivers justice and fairness to those to whom justice has been denied for half a century.
If you can make it to Raleigh to witness the passage of this Bill by the House on Monday, May 16th at 7:00 pm., please join the many others who will be there in the House Gallery.

If you cannot make that trip, please listen online from the General Assembly website:
And write to thank all the House Legislators who voted for the Annexation Reform Act of 2011.
Especially thank the Sponsors and Co-sponsors of H845.

Thom.Tillis@ncleg.net, Speaker of the House,  

Find email contact information for all House Legislators at http://www.stopncannexation.com

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Grassroots Action Alert!

A very good Bill has been introduced in the House to change the North Carolina Annexation laws and the window of time to get it passed in the House will close soon!
StopNCAnnexation supports the passage of H845 to restore the voice of the property owners. 

Email - CALL ALL House Legislators to ask them to support H845;

"Crossover" deadline for this bill to be the hands of the Senate is May 12th
  • H845 will restore a voice to the property owners being considered for annexation
  • H845 will give property owners relief from the costs of water and sewer infrastructure IF the annexation is successful.

  • H845 will stop all annexations that are now in process and haven't reached final passage of the annexation ordinance.
    Cities across NC are rushing to annex areas before this law passes.
    If you are being annexed or oppose forced annexation,
    call and email the House Legislators today. 
 Visit http://www.stopncannexation.com for more information.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    NC Annexation Laws Hailed? Many Do NOT!

    You can tell the NCLM is getting desperate and are calling on their buddies at the newspapers.
    The N&O went beyond the size of their typical "editorial" and gave this opinion piece lots of space:

    'Many hail North Carolina annexation law'

    I faxed the following rebuttal to the News & Observer the very same day, and followed up with an email.
    I wasn't holding my breath waiting for them to publish what I had to say in response.
    As expected, the N&O declined to publish the counterpoint and published few LTE in response either. I'm betting they heard from plenty of people from across the State, but the paper apparently decided to ignore them.

    'Many Do Not' !!

    by Catherine Heath for StopNCAnnexation

    The March 27th article about the debate over FORCED annexation reads like an opinion piece rather than an unbiased report on the facts behind the debate over forced annexation going on the Legislature.

    Where are the quotes from the credentialed researchers and policy experts who have refuted the theory being promoted by David Rusk in his books? Who is David Rusk, other than a former Mayor of Albuquerque, NM who happens to have written some books that support the view of those promoting the creation of “City-States”? Rusk is the darling of those who oppose smaller scale local governments that are closer to and more responsive to the people they serve; a model of public choice found to be more efficient, according to the Nobel Prize winning research of Elinor Ostrom*. 

    Rather than lead the reader to simply accept the opinion of Mr. Rusk as the last word on the rightness or wrongness of allowing North Carolina municipalities to force landowners into the city limits, the reader should have been given the opportunity to hear from those who have examined Mr. Rusk’s theory and found it wanting. Wendell Cox, Stephan Hayward, Randal O’Toole and Howard Husock have all quite thoroughly rebutted the theory espoused by Mr. Rusk*. To exclude the criticisms of Rusk’s theory while devoting much ink to what Rusk has to say shows the bias of the writer of the article. 

    There was plenty of space to include some local policy experts like Daren Bakst and Michael Sanera at the John Locke Foundation who have published papers critical of the practice of forced annexation. Instead, the abundance of space in the article was given to the opinions of a former Mayor and to the chief lobbyist for NC municipalities. This kind of one-sidedness gives the reader the impression that the debate is settled and the published opinions are fact. 

    Where are the actual facts about cities that have great credit ratings in States without FORCED annexation? They do exist, but you wouldn’t think so after reading this article. The article seems to want the reader to believe they will witness scenes of desolation straight out of an apocalyptic movie if they venture beyond the borders of NC. There are other factors that contributed to the success of NC metropolitan areas that have nothing to do with credit ratings or forced annexation.

    Why does this article devote so much space to the opinions of tax funded lobbyists for the municipalities? These lobbyists have enjoyed ‘red carpet’ treatment at the GA and honed their lobbying skills in the “pay to play” culture recently exposed by scandal and Federal arrests. The citizens taking their grievances to Raleigh have witnessed the arrogance of the city lobbyists at the General Assembly. These citizens who traveled to the Legislature, time and again found themselves shut out of the debate while watching these tax funded lobbyists for the cities walk in and say “jump” with too many Legislators responding, “How high?”

    Another fact missing is that the anger from citizens across the State has been ongoing for decades and has been coming from Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike. Restoring the voice for these property owners has been championed in the Legislature by both Democrats and Republicans. This is ignored in an obvious attempt to dismiss these citizens as a new phenomenon sprouting from a partisan agenda. An unbiased examination of the record and history would show the anger is as old as the law itself and goes beyond party affiliation. 

    The rise of the internet has been useful to the people who have always been out there across the State in opposition to forced annexation. It is not the reason that the anger is there, it is the reason the anger is no longer invisible.  If it has taken the recent political upheaval of the General Assembly due to the recent exposure of corruption we have witnessed to open the door for these citizens to be heard, so be it. The fact that the State has made progress against “Boss Hog” style corruption in government is something that should be celebrated, not bemoaned by anyone who stands in favor of good government. 

    A final note to the writer; it was excellent for you to point out that most of the annexation enabling growth to the cities in NC is done voluntarily. This fact proves the error of the claim that cities in NC would not be able to grow and stay healthy if the Legislature restored the voice of the people to the 9.6% of annexations that are now being forced upon a minority of NC’s property owners.  

    Restoring a voice to these property owners would help prevent municipalities from taking in more than they can adequately serve. The law as it is today tempts city officials to grab for an immediate infusion of property tax revenue even when the long term costs that can be delayed will far outweigh the property tax revenue for many years to come. That is the economic reality that saved my neighborhood from being forcibly annexed so far. Too many cities ignore that reality because the temptation is too great. Fayetteville is an excellent example of a city biting off more than it can chew simply “because it can” with the laws we have today. 

    It is time to look beyond the rhetoric and restore the checks and balances that promote good government to this segment of North Carolina law.   

    Catherine Heath
    StopNCAnnexation Coalition
    Wake Co. NC

    Elinor Ostrom: *http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/12812.html
    Rusk refuted: *http://www.stopncannexation.com/Resources.htm