Saturday, April 1, 2023

Town of Leland looking to expand through annexation again

One proposal is for a piece of commercial property adjacent to Leland. The other is for a development that is not contiguous and closer to the Town of Navassa.

The town of Leland continues to grow as more property owners request annexations (Port City Daily photo/FILE)

LELAND — Once again the Town of Leland is set to grow its corporate limits by several acres through voluntary annexation. Two land owners have submitted requests to allow their property to become part of the municipality, but things are never that easy.

In 2012, annexation laws were changed that made involuntary annexations extremely difficult to achieve, which meant municipalities could no longer expand at a whim without the consent of property owners.

This change in the law effectively made voluntary annexations the most feasible way for a town or city to expand its borders.

In these proposed annexations, the first property owner plans to build a 20,000-square-foot medical office building on the property, and already owns an adjacent parcel of land that is already within Leland town limits. Town leaders will only have to approve a Certificate of Sufficiency and follow it up with a public hearing in order to grant annexation.

The more complicated of the two annexation requests comes from Kingfish Investment Properties, which has submitted an application to annex approximately 3-acres of land located in the Leland Industrial Park.

The complications for the request stem from North Carolina law regarding non-contiguous annexations.

According to the N.C.G.S. S. §160A-58.1, for a municipality to annex non-contiguous property, “The nearest point on the proposed satellite corporate limits must be not more than three miles from the primary corporate limits of the annexing city.” And, “No point on the proposed satellite corporate limits may be closer to the primary corporate limits of another city than to the primary corporate limits of the annexing city …”

According to the Town Council’s agenda, “The annexation property is approximately one mile from the primary corporate limits of the Town of Leland and thus the standard is met,” relating to the first requirement.

However, the second requirement which states that the property in question not be located closer to primary corporate limits of another city is where the issue lies. The property in question is actually closer to the Town of Navassa and will require an agreement from the town before annexation can happen.

“The Annexation Property is closer to the Town of Navassa and thus an annexation agreement is needed. An annexation agreement with the Town of Navassa has been prepared by the Town Attorney and delivered to the Mayor of Navassa by the Town Manager. Staff is waiting to receive a signed agreement back from Navassa,” according to town documents.

Economic and Development Director Gary Vidmar explained the benefits for Leland when it comes to annexation.

“In the case of annexing industrial property such as (the parcel in question) in the Leland Industrial Park – Leland does not currently have any substantial amount of industrial-zoned property.  By annexing land that can be zoned industrial, the Town can begin attracting high-tech manufacturing companies and distribution centers that will provide high paying jobs,” Vidmar said.

The town will now have to wait and see what Navassa’s leaders choose to do, and will vote on Thursday to accept the Certificate of Sufficiency and set a public hearing for the annexation. While annexation will bring new business and a larger tax base to Leland, the town is not responsible for providing utilities, provided the property has access to other public utilities.

“With an annexation, the town is not required to provide town-owned streets and town-owned utilities, as long as public streets and public utilities are available from the County and other public utility providers such as Brunswick Sanitary District and Brunswick County. It is not necessary for the town to acquire right-of-way,” Vidmar said.

Fire and EMS services are provided by way of fire district agreements.  Police services can be provided through the shared agreement between Brunswick County Sheriff Department and Leland Police. Waste pickup is provided by the county to Leland residents and businesses.

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