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Legislature tries another fix to annexation issue

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TWC News: Legislature tries another fix to annexation issue
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RALEIGH – State lawmakers are working on a one two punch on annexations issues in the state.

After working to overhaul the involuntary annexation system last year, the issue is still in court and still has both sides dissatisfied.

Legislators are now pushing through legislation that will have at least one side walking away happy.

A group of North Carolina citizens frequently referred to as the "red shirts" have been walking the halls of the legislative building in Raleigh for years.

Their goal: To get North Carolina to overhaul its involuntary annexation laws. Lawmakers did just that last year, but the law ran into a roadblock.

“The court ruled that was unconstitutional because only property owners would have a say-so,” said Sen. Buck Newton, R-Nash. “They call that an election, so we are trying to address the judge's concerns and it doesn't matter if you are a property owner or not just if you are a registered voter.”

So now, a new bill: This one said all registered voters living in the proposed involuntary annexed land get to vote on whether or not the annexation can go through.

Municipalities said this will essentially kill future involuntary annexations.

“It will lead to increased taxes, it will lead to lower quality of life in those communities, and it will lead to less economic development and jobs,” said Kelli Kukura, with the N.C. League of Municipalities.

Supporters said this isn't true.

“In my view that is just extreme rhetoric,” said Newton. “Honestly they haven't like anything we've proposed.”

Most lawmakers acknowledge there have been some bad land grabs by cities in the past, where property is annexed, taxes are raised, but no new services are offered. But some said letting the voters in the proposed annexed land get a say, in all cases, might not work.

“And ask us to stop and reflect for a moment, what we are trying to do, when we ask everybody to wear exactly the same clothes,” said Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D- Mecklenburg.

For the red shirts, this is what they have been working for: A clear chance to control their destiny.

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