Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Annexation Reform Bills

We have three new Bills filed in the House aimed at reforming the annexation laws. All are good, but one is especially important for the citizens looking for real reform.

House Bill 645 was filed yesterday by Rep.'s Dollar, Steen, Goforth and Brown. The list of Representatives adding their names as Co-sponsors is growing quickly. Yesterday the list included Blackwood and now has grown to include Blust, Cleveland, McComas, Starnes & Stewart.

This Bill has been referred to Rules so we need to push hard to get it moving out of that Committee. It will go to Judiciary II which is Chaired by Dan Blue.

Fire up those keyboards and phone lines and encourage YOUR Representative to endorse this Bill in the House. While you are at it, contact your Senator too, and ask them to support Senate Bill 494 submitted by Senator Larry Shaw of the Cumberland County area.

These Legislators cannot be thanked enough for submitting these Bills and signing on in support. These two Bills are the ones that actually address the three key points for reform that we are looking for:

  1. Meaningful oversight _ by the County Commissioners who are directly elected by ALL the citizens affected by municipal annexation, city and county.
  2. Meaningful services _ services that do not duplicate or replace existing adequate services, public or private. Water and sewer all the way to the curb automatic if need can be proven. Cities have to be the actual provider.
  3. Meaningful voice and recourse _ the County would be given the authority to call for a vote of the people affected if objections are raised. If an annexation is approved but ALL urban services are not in place at the end of three years, the annexation area can petition for de-annexation.

Rep. Larry Brown filed two Bills that also address the way cities qualify and provide services.Thanks again Representative Brown!

Will it be easy to get these Bills through both the House and the Senate?
Not likely, so get ready and make a commitment to speak up loudly to all of the Legislators about passing these Bills.

And mark your calendar for the Rally for Reform in Raleigh at the Halifax Mall between the Legislative Buildings downtown. May 6th from 10 to 4.

Groups from all over the State will be gathering at the Halifax Mall with time to walk the halls of the General Assembly and talk to Legislators or drop by their offices with messages about the Bills we want to see enacted into law.

There will also be speakers in the afternoon, a chance to meet and talk with people from all over the State who share this goal of changing the annexation laws.

Last, but certainly not least, is the clear message that we need to send to Legislators and especially the North Carolina League of Municipalities.

The "League" will be in town the same day for their yearly Town Hall Day bringing hundreds of municipal officials for the purpose of promoting the agenda of the Municipal League.
On the annexation issue you can be sure that the "League" will not be representing us even as they are using tax dollars to lobby against us.

Help make this Rally the success that it needs to be in this critical year for annexation reform. Help fill the halls and cover the Halifax Mall with a blanket of red attire by attending. This year we need to break all records for attendance so there is no mistaking the level of support across NC for an end to the abusive practice of forced annexation.

Go to the StopNCAnnexation website for details on the Bills to change annexation law and to find details about the May 6th Rally for Reform;

Friday, March 13, 2009

Annexation Reform Bill Breakdown

The Bills to reform annexation law are rolling in now. The Joint Commission Bills have been filed and some are very bad and need to be opposed.

There 13 reform Bills so far:

Annexation Reform (or not)

1. H314, Edition 1 Annexing Across County Lines. [ HTML PDF ]
This Bill prohibits cities from annexing into another county. Brown and Tillis, 9 co-sponsors

2. H497, Edition 1 Annexation - Moratorium. [ HTML PDF ]
This "moratorium" doesn't stop current annexations, but it does require majority vote approval of any annexation that has an effective date after June 30th, 2009.
Annexations being challenged in court that postpone the original effective date would then be covered under this statute.
Joint Commission Bill

3. H498, Edition 1 Annexation - Vote of the People. [ HTML PDF ]
This Bill simply adds language to the existing statutes that would require a simple majority vote on city initiated annexation. Joint Commission Bill

4. H571, Filed Annexation - Moratorium. [ HTML PDF ]
This Bill is a moratorium on forced annexation. The moratorium would begin August 2009 and end in May 2010. A nine month moratorium that would not help those being forcibly annexed facing an effective date of June 30th, '09 Joint Commission Bill

5. H66, Edition 1 New Hanover Annexation Moratorium. [ HTML PDF ]
Local moratorium on forced annexation in New Hanover.

6. H158, Edition 1 Rowan Annexation Moratorium. [ HTML PDF ]
Local moratorium on forced annexation in Rowan County.

7. H172, Edition 1 Wayne Annexation Moratorium. [ HTML PDF ]
Local moratorium on forced annexation in Wayne County.

8. H525, Edition 1 Annexation - LGC and Already Served Areas. [ HTML PDF ]
This Bill gives the LGC the task of "assessing the fiscal feasibility" of forced annexations. No mention of whether the LGC can prohibit the annexation if the numbers don't add up.
StopNCAnnexation thinks that most of the people would rather see County Commissioner oversight.
This Bill also inserts a provision to exempt areas already served with public water and sewer from forced annexation.
It's odd how this VERY unlikely special exemption keeps coming up!
This is the "Throw All the Septic System Owners Under the Bus for the Benefit of a Few" Bill
This idea was first proposed at the beginning of the 2007 session by former Rep. Joe Boylan who won the Moore County District seat by defeating Richard Morgan. The idea kept coming up in the Joint Commission recommendations and the City Lobbyists seem to be only half-heartedly opposing it. With all the talk from the NCLM about how "that which is urban should be municipal" you would think that areas served with public water and sewer would be the areas that the NCLM would fight hard against exempting them.
The idea of giving a vote only to areas served with public water and sewer is also included in another Joint Commission Bill; H524. Very odd indeed.

9. S472, Edition 1 Annexation Changes. [ HTML PDF ]
This is the Tony Rand/League of Municipalities Bill!
The March 6th NCLM Bulletin announced that "their Bill" was going to be introduced and the March 13th Bulletin flat out claims S472 as the League's Bill.
This Bill is a horror of meaningless tweaks.
The changes are cosmetic; truly Lipstick on a Pig!

10. S494, Edition 1 Annexation/Meaningful Services & Oversight. [ HTML PDF ]
This Bill submitted by Senator Shaw is the one to get behind!
Thank you Senator Shaw!
This Bill would have the County Commissioners involved to approve or disapprove all city initiated annexations. It allows for a vote of the people being annexed if they voice objections at the Public Hearing.
It requires ALL cities to plan and deliver water and sewer TO THE CURB within three years if they want to initiate an annexation.
The Bill also raises the density and subdivision standard, eliminates different requirements based on the size of the city AND it provides a provision for the annexed areas to call for DE-annexation if the annexed area does not get ALL services within three years.

11. H524, Edition 1 Annexation - Omnibus Changes. [ HTML PDF ]
This Bill includes a lot of the recommendations that came out of the Joint Commission, but it doesn't claim to come from the Commission recommendations like some of the others do.
The Bill actually includes some of the recommendations that the Fair Annexation Coalition submitted to legislators. It includes recommendations that the NCLM supports, but the NCLM opposes this Bill.

  • StopNCAnnexation does not support the changes to annexation in this Bill.
  • SNCA does not support the idea of using the LGC for oversight.
  • SNCA does not support the idea of giving protection from forced annexation only to areas already served by public water and sewer and leaving landowners with good septic systems and well subject to forced annexation.
  • SNCA does not support the idea of paying the cities to annex areas in need. Cities were given the power to annex in order to fulfill the responsibility to extend meaningful services to areas that needed them. Why should they be paid to do what they were suppose to do in the first place?

This Bill does not provide any of the three recommendations from the people:
1. Meaningful oversight = County Commissioners who represent all the affected citizens
2. Meaningful voice = A vote and the approval or denial by County Commissioners
3. Meaningful services = Services that don't replace existing adequate services, public and private.

12. S148, Filed Annexation Referendum. [ HTML PDF ]
This Bill completely replaces the current annexation statutes with language that allows cities to initiate annexations BUT these annexations would have to be put to a vote of the people in the affected area. Senator Brock has filed a Bill like this EVERY YEAR since he was elected.
Thank you Senator Brock! THIS IS A GOOD BILL TO SUPPORT

13. S536, Edition 1 (= H552) Goldsboro Deannexation. [ HTML PDF ]
14. H552, Edition 1 (= S536) Goldsboro Deannexation. [ HTML PDF ]
WOW! The Wayne County Good Neighbors United Community that was annexed recently into Goldboro after a long and hard fight have matching Bills from their House Representative and Senator to DE-annex the area from Goldsboro!
Thank you Senator Rouzer and Representative Sager. Rep. Larry Brown put his name on this Bill too! Thank you once again Larry.

Annexation Mischief:

These two Bills are especially awful because they allow Southport to annex a shoestring of land belonging to Progress energy in exchange for protection against annexation for Progress Energy until 2071! Southport needs this shoestring to qualify an area beyond the Progress property for forced annexation. This forced annexation would be the financial ruin of a very well cared for Mom & Pop Mobile home park that is home to some senior citizens and disabled vets.

15. H347, Edition 2 (= S315) Southport Annexation Agreement. [ HTML PDF ]
16. S315, Edition 1 (= H347) Southport Annexation Agreement. [ HTML PDF ]

All of the following Bills expand the power of cities to create disorderly growth miles from the actual city limits:

17. H17, Edition 1 Asheboro Satellite Annexation.
18. S29, Edition 1 Norwood Satellite Annexations.
19. H336, Edition 1 Richlands/Satellite Annexations.
20. S393, Edition 1 Kannapolis Annexation.
21. H422, Edition 1 Kannapolis Annexation.

Soon there will be no limit to the amount of land that cities can have scattered around outside the city limits far into low density semi-rural to rural areas. And the limit on how far away these islands can be incorporated is now being extended. One city has the right to have 50% of the incorporated area of the city scattered out in unattached islands. This law started out with a 10% limit. Few cities are left that are still under this exemption.

What's up with this?

22. S432, Midway Community (Aberdeen) Annexation
. [ HTML PDF ]
Midway is one of those low income distressed areas surrounded by affluent towns in Moore County. These areas and the exclusion from annexation gained national attention during the 2005 US Open. This Bill legislatively annexes the area into the Town of Aberdeen.
Aberdeen does does not offer water and sewer utilities because the water and sewer in Moore County is provided by the County. I wonder how the people in Midway feel about this legislative annexation and the higher taxes it brings them?? Will they get something meaningful from Aberdeen in return for those higher taxes? Can they afford them?