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The Process of Annexation

There are three types of annexation. 

Voluntary Annexation – Occurs when a property owner requests to join a city or town.

Annexation by Statute – Occurs when property is added to a city or town by an act of the state legislature.

Involuntary Annexation – Occurs when property is added to a city or town by a specific legislated procedure with or without the consent of the property owner(s) being annexed.

While Asheville has, and continues to have, many voluntary annexations, most public interest is with regard to involuntary annexation.  Most of this webpage deals with involuntary annexation as a consequence of this interest.

Involuntary Annexation - Background and General Information

Involuntary annexation is a matter of state policy.  State law allows involuntary annexation by cities and towns. Areas to be annexed must have specific urban characteristics – that is, they must qualify under state law as urban areas. State legislative policy says that “municipal boundaries should be extended in accordance with legislative standards to include such areas” that exhibit these urban characteristics to provide high quality governmental services and to promote sound urban development.  Additionally, state revenue sharing policies and practices assume that urban areas will grow through annexation; if we do not pursue such growth, we miss out on revenue sharing opportunities that are population-based (such as sales tax distributions) or miles of roadway (Powell bill distributions).   A copy of the NC State Statutes is provided below that provides the specific intent and purpose behind involuntary annexation.

§160A-45. Declaration of policy. It is hereby declared as a matter of State policy: (1) That sound urban development is essential to the continued economic development of North Carolina; (2) That municipalities are created to provide the governmental services essential for sound urban development and for the protection of health, safety and welfare in areas being intensively used for residential, commercial, industrial, institutional and governmental purposes or in areas undergoing such development; (3) That municipal boundaries should be extended in accordance with legislative standards applicable throughout the State, to include such areas and to provide the high quality of governmental services needed therein for the public health, safety and welfare; (4) That new urban development in and around municipalities having a population of 5,000 or more persons is more scattered than in and around smaller municipalities, and that such larger municipalities have greater difficulty in expanding municipal utility systems and other service facilities to serve such scattered development, so that the legislative standards governing annexation by larger municipalities must take these facts into account if the objectives set forth in this section are to be attained; (5) That areas annexed to municipalities in accordance with such uniform legislative standards should receive the services provided by the annexing municipality in accordance with G.S. 160A-47(3).

Annexation by a city or town must follow a specific procedure and must insure that urban services are provided to the areas to be annexed in a timely fashion and at a level substantially similar to that provided to other areas within the city or town.  The procedures that must be followed are:

  • Adoption of a Resolution of Intent to Annex for each area
  • Approval of a Services Plan for each area
  • Public Information Meeting for affected property owners
  • Public Hearing before the city or town governing board
  • Adoption of Annexation Ordinances
  • Police
  • Fire
  • Sanitation
  • Street Maintenance
  • Water
  • Sewer
  • Street Lighting
  • Recreation Facilities and Services
  • Administration and Miscellaneous Services (e.g., governance by the City Council, administrative support by the City Manager and City staff, housing and building code services, planning and zoning services, community development services, legal representation and similar services)

The Resolution of Intent to Annex identifies the areas proposed for involuntary annexation and officially initiates the annexation process. 

The Services Plan lays out the specific services that the city or town commits to provide to the areas to be annexed and includes financial implementation information about these services.   Additionally, the Plan indicates how the areas proposed for annexation qualify as urban areas, thereby making them eligible for annexation.  This Plan is very important from a legal standpoint as courts have ruled that the central purpose behind the annexation procedure in the State Statutes is to ensure that, in return for the added financial burden of municipal taxation, the areas annexed receive the benefits of all the major services available to other areas within the city or town.   The Services Plan provides estimates of revenues as well as expenditures necessary to ensure that annexed areas receive a level of service comparable to other areas in the City.  Estimated revenues include money from real property taxes, personal property taxes, state and local utilities franchise taxes, sales and use taxes, Powell Bill distributions, and recycling and other fees.  Services covered in the Service Plan include:

The Public Information Meeting provides an opportunity for affected persons to gain information about the annexation process, including the services available to them upon annexation, the basis for why their area(s) qualify for annexation, and what procedural opportunities they have to make their voices heard.

The Public Hearing provides an opportunity for persons to comment on proposed annexation and for the city or town board to hear those comments and take them under consideration.

The Adoption of Annexation Ordinances is the official consideration of the proposed annexation(s) by the city or town.  The annexation ordinances include the date on which the annexation(s) will become effective and, therefore, the date on which most services to the annexed areas will begin.


Contact Information

Blake Esselstyn

Julie Fields

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