LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - It’s one of the fastest growing places in the state according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but it’s not just population that is on the rise in Leland, the town itself continues to grow - despite the fact state law made the annexation process significantly more difficult. Now, the town is looking to make it even easier for property owners to annex their property into the town limits by removing fees to do so.
Annexation is when property located in unincorporated county areas is brought into municipal limits. There are multiple ways property can be annexed, both voluntary and involuntary, but reforms to state laws made involuntary annexation require a majority vote in favor of the annexation to pass.
While involuntary annexation is seldom seen these days, voluntary annexation is alive and well in Leland. Hundreds of acres of previously unincorporated land in Brunswick County has been annexed into the Town of Leland’s municipal limits over the past few years. There have been costs associated with annexation for landowners, but now town staff is hoping elected leaders will waive the $450 fee to make annexation more attractive.
“Staff recommends removing the $450 fee required for applying for a voluntary annexation into the Town. With a voluntary annexation, a petitioner can request that their property be annexed into the municipal boundaries of Leland. Through this process, an initial zoning recommendation is presented to the Planning Board who then makes a recommendation to Council for the initial zoning of the property. At Town Council, two public hearings are held - one to consider annexing the property and one to apply zoning to the property,” according to town staff.
So why would anyone want to annex their land into Leland? Well, for the town it is a growth in its tax base, for property owners, it offers access to services including police, fire, and other utilities.
Although most annexation is voluntary, there is still a process town staff has to go through which is why there is a cost associated with the process.
“The administrative costs to the Town include the staff time preparing and presenting to the Planning Board and Town Council, staff time of posting public notification signs on the property prior to the Planning Board and Town Council meetings, and staff time reviewing and having recorded the map of annexation at the Register of Deeds. Because the initial zoning is considered a zoning map amendment, cost is also incurred for advertising in the newspaper the public hearing for initial zoning at the Town Council meeting,” according to the request. “Staff is recommending to eliminate the $450 application fee to remove the cost burden of property owners requesting a voluntary annexation.”
On Thursday, the Town Council will vote on approving the changes to the town’s fee schedule - coincidentally - the town will also vote on annexing approximately 50-acres of land into the town limits. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at Leland Town Hall.