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Annexation faces hurdles in Carolina Shores

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

CAROLINA SHORES — The only way the town can annex Carolina Shores North is through citizen petition or or action by the state legislature.

Town Administrator Jon Mendenhall outlined details at the Oct. 4 meeting of the town economic development commission, aka town commissioners.

He cited complications, the most prominent one being that the significant southwestern side of the residential Carolina Shores North community, about a mile long just north of the town, abuts the South Carolina line. The community has about 378 residents and the proposed annexation area consists of 270.2 acres.

Only about 9.4 percent of the community being considered for annexation, or 2,044.63 linear feet, is contiguous to the existing corporate line, which is less than one-eighth of its aggregate external boundary and does not qualify for annexation under current state statute.

Annexation by citizen petition or through state legislative action are the two options the community and town have, according to a Sept. 25 memorandum from Dale Holland of Holland Consulting Planners to the town.

To facilitate annexation through petition, all property owners in Carolina Shores North have to sign it, according to Holland. Once the town clerk has ascertained the validity of the petition, a public hearing would take place and the town board “acts on the petition,” Holland wrote. “In most cases, the decision to annex is completely within the discretion of the board. The annexation is a legislative matter and must be approved by ordinance.”

Property to be annexed by petition must either be contiguous to the town’s primary corporate limits or meet criteria for non-contiguous or “satellite” annexation, per state statute on each of these measures.

The criteria for annexation by petition includes limits on the distance between the area to be annexed and the town’s primary corporate limits, proximity of the property to primary corporate limits of another town and size of the property “as a percentage of the total size of the town.” Holland added many local governments have obtained local acts exempting them from the size limitation.

Unlike involuntary annexation, for which a voter referendum is now required in North Carolina and at least one-eighth of the property has to be contiguous to primary corporate limits, “the voluntary annexation statute does not establish a specific numerical definition,” Holland wrote in a Sept. 25 memorandum to the town.

“Property is considered to be contiguous if it abuts directly on the municipal boundary or is separated by the width of a street, creek or river or the right-of-way of a railroad or land owned by the state or another local government. The Carolina Shores North subdivision is separated from the town’s contiguous corporate limits by U.S. Highway 17. This scenario complies with the standards currently outlined for voluntary annexation under the North Carolina General Statutes.”

The only other option to annex Carolina Shores North, aside from citizen petition, he wrote, is to appeal for action through the North Carolina General Assembly.

That entails approval and action by the town board of commissioners.

“Although this option was the primary method of municipal annexation until 1947, it is not as common today,” Holland wrote. “This method of annexation is typically exercised when all other options have been exhausted, and the town must establish a solution to an ongoing problem regarding municipal boundaries. This option may include the annexation of infrastructure or the incorporation of lands interior to the town’s contiguous corporate limits typically referred to as ‘doughnut holes.’”

With a quarter of Carolina Shores North abutting South Carolina, Mendenhall said South Carolina has more contiguous border than the town will ever have.

He said it will be up to the General Assembly and residents there to approve annexation.

 

Revenue, responsibilities

Commissioners discussed the potential ad valorem tax levy on the annexation area, which would bring an estimated $68,892 into town coffers, plus additional Powell Bill revenues to maintain 6.35 miles of roads rights-of-way estimated at $17,794.

Waste Industries provides curbside solid waste removal in Carolina Shores North, which also has access to water and sewer service from Brunswick County.

Commissioner Gere Dale said the potential for revenue is good as well as development in the community.

Citing requirements, commissioner Greg Davis said, “When (the General Assembly) wrote that rule, they never dreamed a developer would be on the state line.”

Mendenhall said the Carolina Shores North Property Owners Association has requested a public input meeting like the town conducted previously. He said that would be the next step “so they can understand where we are in the process.”

Board members questioned whether the town is being overly optimistic in terms of financial responsibility should annexation occur.

Davis said there would be wiggle room, and the addition of water and sewer service there is a bonus.

“I would say that the opportunity for that to grow, which would increase revenues, would be great,” he said, adding he is cautiously optimistic about finances.

“It’s the process, whether we can get through the process,” he said.

Mendenhall recommended the town wait until the General Assembly’s long session at the first of 2019 to address the issue, after the town has a workshop with Carolina Shores North and gets guidance from town attorney Jim Eldridge.

“They’re doing hurricane things right now,” he said.

“Plus they’ve got elections,” Davis said.

 

Community music venue

Town code enforcement officer Gail Treglia outlined a proposed “vision” for the town to have a community music venue on its green behind town hall.

The proposal is for the town to support community-based musical programs presented by citizens who live in the town and surrounding areas during the spring and fall months.

The program would include choral and instrumental groups, single artists and local bands that would perform “at little or no cost to the town.” Proposed funding would be in partnership with the Brunswick County Department of Recreation, and the town could also apply for a grant and collaborate with local businesses for sponsorships.

During a break between meetings Thursday, commissioners paid tribute to a number of town staff with a luncheon and cake to thank the workers for their efforts before, during and after Hurricane Florence last month.

“Our staff worked so hard,” Mayor Joyce Dunn said. “They’re still working so hard. I see them out there in long-sleeve shirts in 90-degree weather pulling that stuff off the ground.”

She also recognized Mendenhall, Treglia and town maintenance employee Jerry Franklin for serving as chef.

 

Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.