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Annexation rule changes approved by legislature

RALEIGH (AP) — The General Assembly gave final approval May 29 to two bills that alter forced annexation rules in North Carolina for the second year in a row — this time to respond to a court ruling that struck down changes made in 2011.

One bill that likely will make it more difficult for municipalities to expand their boundaries by taking in land when property owners object now heads to Gov. Beverly Perdue’s desk for her signature. Another bill, which canceled contentious involuntary annexations by nine municipalities, doesn’t go to Perdue because it’s considered local legislation and now becomes law.

The Republican-led legislature moved both bills quickly through the legislature in the first two weeks of the short session. They were in response a March court ruling that struck down a petition process approved in 2011 to block such annexations because only landowners participated, not all voters.

The bill heading to Perdue replaces the petition process, which has required 60 percent of landowners in the area being assumed by the town or city to block the involuntary annexation, with a traditional referendum requiring a simple majority vote. The bill was approved 72-45 — a margin that indicates the bill could override any Perdue veto.

Perdue will have 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto it, or let it become law without her signature.

“The governor is concerned about the health of our cities and she will be reviewing the bill,” Perdue spokesman Mark Johnson said.

The North Carolina League of Municipalities didn’t like the petition requirement approved in 2011 and sees the referendum as a worse method that city boosters argue will discourage the healthy municipal growth North Carolina has experienced for decades.

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