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What proposed Leland annexation would mean for residents in both Brunswick and New Hanover Counties

In Leland, voluntary annexations have helped the town grow its boundaries, which in turn adds to the town’s tax base
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 1:33 PM EST
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LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - When the developer behind a proposed project on the western banks of the Cape Fear River announced a proposed annexation into the Town of Leland it raised a lot of questions, mainly because Leland is in Brunswick County and the location of the project is in New Hanover County.

In North Carolina, annexation laws have changed over the years. In 2011 and 2012 the annexation laws became more strict; essentially, involuntary annexation became much more difficult, requiring a vote by residents to approve.

That’s why voluntary annexations have become more common across the state.

In Leland, these voluntary annexations have helped the town grow its boundaries, which in turn adds to the town’s tax base.

It also means that the town has to provide services to these areas like police and fire. As far as infrastructure, that will be decided in the future and Town of Leland Manager David Hollis said that it is typically up to the developer to build roads and figure out things like water and sewer.

It’s also worth noting that the annexation is just the first step in a long process. There is no guarantee that it will be approved; but if it is, that does not mean the project — The Villages at Battleship Point — would be approved.

Does the annexation change county lines?

Annexations do not change county lines, only the municipal limits. And simply being in another county does not preclude a municipality from annexation, according to the NC School of Government.

Hollis explained what this would mean for potential residents in the new part of Leland if it was approved. Mainly, it would affect some logistics including taxes, elections, and other services like policing.

“Those residents would be citizens of New Hanover County but also of the Town of Leland. So when New Hanover County has its municipal elections, it would need to include Leland as part of that municipal election,” Hollis said.

Residents in the New Hanover part of Leland would be eligible to vote in New Hanover County elections as well as Leland elections. Residents of Leland in Brunswick County would still vote for Brunswick County officials, he said.

It would impact public services to an extent also. If approved, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office would patrol the area as well as the Town of Leland Police. The same would be true for fire services as well.

As for New Hanover County, it’s something that the county is looking into.

“At this time, our staff is gathering facts about what a potential annexation would mean, but it would likely not present significant changes for New Hanover County overall,” New Hanover spokeswoman Jessica Loeper said.

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