South Charlotte

New law affects annexation

New state legislation will allow homeowners around Marvin to decide if they want to be annexed.

The law, passed by the N.C. legislature in June, states that when an area is being involuntarily annexed, the town must send forms to each household informing them of their right to deny annexation.

Homeowners can express their desire against annexation by signing the form and sending it to the board of elections. If 60 percent of the homeowners in the proposed annexation area sign and return the forms, the annexation will be terminated and the town cannot try again for three years.

Additional legislation attached to the new law allowed Marvin to apply the law retroactively.

Currently, homeowners in Marvin's proposed annexation area have until Nov. 30 to return petitions. The board of elections will begin the count Dec. 6.

Marvin proposed an involuntary annexation of nearly 1,500 properties in 2008. That proposal angered many residents.

Those residents filed a lawsuit, and that case is now with the N.C. Court of Appeals; however, justices with the court of appeals announced Aug. 18 that they were holding off on a ruling due to the change in state law.

With 14 municipalities in Union County, the area has seen its share of forced annexation in the 42 years since North Carolina's first annexation law was passed. According to the N.C. Supreme Court, the purpose of forced annexation is for municipalities to provide meaningful services to annexed areas. Those annexed, however, have often felt the services did not merit the tax increase.

People who live in the area that would be annexed by Marvin say they do not want their taxes to increase when Marvin's services are minimal. Marvin offers one 40-hour-per-week sheriff's deputy, some walking trails and a park that's expected to open next spring.

Paul Schneider, a resident of Walden Pond, a neighborhood on the annexation list, has been an advocate for denying annexation. He and others erected signs, went door-to-door and supplied additional forms for those who might have misplaced theirs.

"If they want to know why they should deny the annexation, I'm glad to tell them, because (the town offers) nothing," Schneider said. "And the ordinances they have are some of the strictest in the state."

Marvin officials, however, say its ordinances are designed to keep builders from destroying trees and protect the village.

According to Mayor Nick Dispenziere, if the annexation went through, Marvin would be required to hire two deputies. At that point, Marvin law enforcement could join forces with Weddington in increasing coverage around the clock for the two towns.

"We're looking to build a community," Dispenziere said. "Our planning services are for keeping open space and maintaining our small-town feel. Our residents don't want a lot of services because they don't want a lot of taxes. They want a couple things that we provide."

The tax increase for being annexed into Marvin would be five cents per $100 property value.

"The legislature has a resolution this year requiring a 60 percent approval for annexation, and I think that's fair," Dispenziere said. "We hope they see the advantages of being part of Marvin and the community, but we're not looking to take people that don't want to be part of the community."