Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Annexation laws slows municipalities’ growth in New Hanover County, but Leland could still grow

The Ogden Marketplace was one of the last places annexed by Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY OGDEN MARKETPLACE)
The Ogden Marketplace was one of the last places annexed by Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY OGDEN MARKETPLACE)

LELAND — Annexation laws aren’t what they used to be in North Carolina. The laws changed in 2012 to require a referendum before a municipality could claim new land as its own by involuntary annexation, but that does not mean cities and towns are unable to grow their land area through voluntary annexations.

This is what the developer of Lanvale Forest Subdivision is hoping will happen when its annexation request comes back to the Town Council later this month. The request was postponed in September until the Oct. 19 meeting by the applicant, M & JM LLC.

“The proposed annexation would support the goal of increasing the types of housing in the community. The proposed annexation area could accommodate 46 homesites that will increase ad valorem property tax and sales tax revenue based upon the increased population. This additional revenue can be used to support Town services such as police, fire and public improvements among others,” Economic and Community Development Director for the Town of Leland Gary Vidmar said.

For the City of Wilmington, annexation is largely a thing of the past, according to Communications Manager Malissa Talbert. North Carolina was one of the few states that allowed the involuntary annexation of property into city limits, and that is one of the ways the City of Wilmington grew significantly in the past.

Annexations of unincorporated property is one of the ways municipalities increase their tax base and urbanize areas for future growth.

Typically, land that is to be annexed is contiguous to city or town limits, and the county does not have a say in the annexation, Talbert said.

There are instances of voluntary annexations in Wilmington still. For example, the property located on Market Street that will be home to Publix in Ogden was annexed into the city limits, she said. Other involuntary attempts have been made to annex areas into city limits that have faced strong opposition, particularly in the Monkey Junction area, and will likely never get the approval needed by residents in the area, Talbert said.

Annexation in Wilmington is also a unique situation. Since there is so little rural area left in New Hanover County, the smaller parcels of land that are voluntary annexed into the city often do not have a significant impact on the tax base, Talbert said.

This is not the case in Brunswick County however, which is one of the fastest growing counties in the state and also one of the largest counties statewide. With the consistent growth in Brunswick County, municipalities such as Leland have the opportunity to expand through annexation.

Michael Praats can be reached at Michael.p@localvoicemedia.com

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