Annexation: Enough is enough

It is a shame when North Carolinians must resort to annexation repeal bills to get their voices heard. It is time that we had meaningful annexation reform that provides for a vote for those wishing to be annexed and for those selected to be annexed. At no time should an annexation proceed without a vote of the people being annexed.

We must remember that municipal government’s powers must be limited to their municipal limits; extending municipal powers beyond their municipal limit places North Carolinians at peril. Rural North Carolinians have been in danger since the enactment of the current involuntary annexation statute. Many were amazed that a municipality could forcibly annex their property when the annexation took place. Many still are under the mistaken impression that they will have a say in how their properties are impacted by annexation. It is time to return their power to them.

In addition, granting municipalities power beyond their municipal limits causes municipalities to conjure up mythical justifications to retain those powers. They will also espouse mythical reasons why their powers should be extended further into areas outside their municipal limits. Enough is enough: We must limit municipal powers to municipal limits in all areas.

It is time the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness granted by our creator were returned to North Carolinians; those rights were taken away from the citizens with the enactment of the current involuntary annexation laws. It is time those laws were reformed and the dictatorial powers granted municipal councils were removed.

— Ray Shamlin
Rocky Mount

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7 thoughts on “Annexation: Enough is enough

  1. Gordon Smith

    Mr. Shamlin,

    I appreciate your strongly held views. It’s my hope that you’ll become an ally in Asheville’s efforts to have unfair restrictions removed from our city. Were we allowed to offer voluntary annexation in return for water resource, then I don’t think Asheville would need the controversial tool of involuntary annexation.

    However, Asheville is unfairly saddled with restrictions unlike any other city in the state. This results in building just outside our city limits that creates unhealthy land use patterns. We’re making enormous strides in incentivizing building inside our city limits, but we’re still hamstrung by unique restrictions.

    Please contact your legislators and encourage them to treat Asheville like other cities in the state.

  2. travelah

    Gordon, what are the particular restrictions that are driving development outside city limits?

  3. FactFinder

    The restrictions imposed on the city of Asheville in terms of their not being able to offer voluntary annexation in return for water resource is not negotiable. These restrictions are written into law in the form of Sullivan Acts II and III which forbid the city of Asheville from charging differential water rates – lower rates to city residents and higher rates to outside customers. The near unanimous vote of the N.C. House and Senate on these two laws was based on the fact that Buncombe County has a different water history with the city of Asheville than other counties. Years ago, the County built and maintained its water infrastructure, pipes and all. At some point during the Depression, I believe, the County asked the city to manage its water system, still retaining ownership of its water system. It is for this reason that lawmakers approved Sullivan Acts II and III. In other counties, this is not the case. To suggest that lawmakers will go back to the drawing board to give Asheville a break is not realistic.
    These Acts are based not on whim but on solid legal facts. The County owns its water infrastructure; not the city.

  4. FactFinder

    N.C. lawmakers have already given the city of Asheville a break so that they could use water revenue for uses other than maintenance of the water system. Sullivan Acts II and III made it impossible for Asheville to use water revenue for anything but water system maintenance. The city went before the N.C. legislature, asking for a modification which was approved, allowing Asheville to use some of its water revenue to pay down its bills.

  5. FactFinder

    One more fact. Based on May/June 1959 News&Observer; articles obtained from the WCU library archives, prior to the passage of the 1959 N.C. Annexation law, the people of N.C. were required to vote on annexation and regularly did so. This law DISENFRANCHISED them from voting on annexation – a right they previously enjoyed. The right to vote on annexation is provided by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and should be RESTORED! Any excuse not to do so such as Asheville being so broke that the only way they can get revenue is to forcibly annex does not hold water because it is not constitutional. N.C. and 3 other states practice forced annexation; the other 47 states do not and their cities are doing just fine. Why not raise the hotel/motel occupancy tax rate and give it to Asheville? THere must be other creative ways to increase Asheville’s income so it can pay its bills.

  6. TallPaul

    Gee, guys… the original letter is about forced annexation, not about Asheville’s problems.

    Using Asheville’s “special situation” as an excuse for forced annexation is ludicrous. No matter what excuse you make for it, cities need annexation largely because they cannot limit their spending to generated tax revenue.

    Forced annexation is a plague upon individual property rights. Where else can you have the value of your property decreased and your taxes increased while you get no say in the matter?

    No wonder so few states support this practice.

  7. indy499

    I wonder if all the advocates for only allowing voluntary annexation would support the same state legislature to restructure the sales tax formulas so that the entity that creates the tax gets to keep it? Buncombe county residents who do not reside in Asheville receive a disproportionate share of the sales tax generated. How about a simple fairer system—-you produce it, you keep it.

    I think the city of Asheville has not been very creative in generating revenue from people who work and play in Asheville but don’t pay city taxes. How about a commuter tax? Differntial parking rates for residents and non-residents.

    If the state eliminates involuntary annexation and continues to allow counties to take a disproportionate share of sales tax revenue, then the city needs to get much more creative. For all the people who say they never come to town for work or play, this shouldn’t be an issue for you, because we’re sure you’re never here free riding the infrastructure.

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