160A-31. Annexation by petition.

(a) The governing board of any municipality may annex by ordinance any area contiguous to its boundaries upon presentation to the governing board of a petition signed by the owners of all the real property located within such area. The petition shall be signed by each owner of real property in the area and shall contain the address of each such owner.

(b) The petition shall be prepared in substantially the following form:

DATE:

To the _____________ (name of governing board) of the (City or Town) of ____________

1. We the undersigned owners of real property respectfully request that the area described in paragraph 2 below be annexed to the (City or Town) of _________

2. The area to be annexed is contiguous to the (City or Town) of _________ and the boundaries of such territory are as follows:

(b1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, if fifty-one percent (51%) of the households in an area petitioning for annexation pursuant to this section have incomes that are two hundred percent (200%) or less than the most recently published United States Census Bureau poverty thresholds, the governing board of any municipality shall annex by ordinance any area the population of which is no more than ten percent (10%) of that of the municipality and one-eighth of the aggregate external boundaries of which are contiguous to its boundaries, upon presentation to the governing board of a petition signed by the owners of at least seventy-five percent (75%) of the parcels of real property in that area. A municipality shall not be required to adopt more than one ordinance under this subsection within a 36-month period.

(b2) The petition under subsection (b1) of this section shall be prepared in substantially the following form:

DATE:

To the ___________ (name of governing board) of the (City or Town) of ______________

1. We the undersigned owners of real property believe that the area described in paragraph 2 below meets the requirements of G.S. 160A-31(b1) and respectfully request that the area described in paragraph 2 below be annexed to the (City or Town) of _________.

2. The area to be annexed is contiguous to the (City or Town) of _________, and the boundaries of such territory are as follows:

(c) Upon receipt of the petition, the municipal governing board shall cause the clerk of the municipality to investigate the sufficiency thereof and to certify the result of the investigation. For petitions received under subsection (b1) or (j) of this section, the clerk shall receive the evidence provided under subsection (l) of this section before certifying the sufficiency of the petition. Upon receipt of the certification, the municipal governing board shall fix a date for a public hearing on the question of annexation, and shall cause notice of the public hearing to be published once in a newspaper having general circulation in the municipality at least 10 days prior to the date of the public hearing; provided, if there be no such paper, the governing board shall have notices posted in three or more public places within the area to be annexed and three or more public places within the municipality.

(d) At the public hearing persons resident or owning property in the area described in the petition and persons resident or owning property in the municipality shall be given an opportunity to be heard. The governing board shall then determine whether the petition meets the requirements of this section. Upon a finding that the petition that was not submitted under subsection (b1) or (j) of this section meets the requirements of this section, the governing board shall have authority to pass an ordinance annexing the territory described in the petition. The governing board shall have authority to make the annexing ordinance effective immediately or on the June 30 after the date of the passage of the ordinance or the June 30 of the following year after the date of passage of the ordinance.

(d1) Upon a finding that a petition submitted under subsection (j) of this section meets the requirements of this section, the governing body shall have the authority to adopt an annexation ordinance for the area with an effective date no later than 24 months after the adoption of the ordinance.

(d2) Upon a finding that a petition submitted under subsection (b1) of this section meets the requirements of this section, the governing body shall, within 60 days of the finding, estimate the capital cost to the municipality of extending water and sewer lines to all parcels within the area covered by the petition and estimate the annual debt service payment that would be required if those costs were financed by a 20-year revenue bond. If the estimated annual debt service payment is less than five percent (5%) of the municipality's annual water and sewer systems revenue for the most recent fiscal year, then the governing body shall within 30 days adopt an annexation ordinance for the area with an effective date no later than 24 months after the adoption of the ordinance. If the estimated annual debt service payment is greater than or equal to five percent (5%) of the municipality's annual water and sewer systems revenue for the most recent fiscal year, then the governing body may adopt a resolution declining to annex the area. If such a resolution is adopted, the governing body shall immediately submit a request to the Local Government Commission to certify that its estimate of the annual debt service payment is reasonable based on established governmental accounting principles.

(1) If the Local Government Commission certifies the estimate, the municipality is not required to annex the area and no petition to annex the area may be submitted under subsection (b1) of this section for 36 months following the certification. During the 36-month period, the municipality shall make ongoing, annual good faith efforts to secure Community Development Block Grants or other grant funding for extending water and sewer service to all parcels in the areas covered by the petition. If sufficient funding is secured so that the estimated capital cost to the municipality for extending water and sewer service, less the funds secured, would result in an annual debt service payment cost to the municipality of less than five percent (5%) of the municipality's annual water and sewer systems revenue for the most recent fiscal year, then the governing body shall within 30 days adopt an annexation ordinance for the area with an effective date no later than 24 months after the adoption of the ordinance.

(2) If the Local Government Commission notifies the governing board that the estimates are not reasonable based on established governmental accounting principles and that a reasonable estimate of the annual debt service payment is less than five percent (5%) of the municipality's annual water and sewer systems revenue for the most recent fiscal year, then the governing body shall within 30 days of the notification adopt an annexation ordinance for the area with an effective date no later than 24 months after the adoption of the ordinance.

(d3) Municipal services shall be provided to an area annexed under subsections (b1) and (j) of this section in accordance with the requirements of Part 7 of this Article.

(e) From and after the effective date of the annexation ordinance, the territory and its citizens and property shall be subject to all debts, laws, ordinances and regulations in force in such municipality and shall be entitled to the same privileges and benefits as other parts of such municipality. Real and personal property in the newly annexed territory on the January 1 immediately preceding the beginning of the fiscal year in which the annexation becomes effective is subject to municipal taxes as provided in G.S. 160A-58.10. If the effective date of annexation falls between June 1 and June 30, and the effective date of the privilege license tax ordinance of the annexing municipality is June 1, then businesses in the area to be annexed shall be liable for taxes imposed in such ordinance from and after the effective date of annexation.

(f) For purposes of this section, an area shall be deemed "contiguous" if, at the time the petition is submitted, such area either abuts directly on the municipal boundary or is separated from the municipal boundary by the width of a street or street right-of-way, a creek or river, or the right-of-way of a railroad or other public service corporation, lands owned by the municipality or some other political subdivision, or lands owned by the State of North Carolina. A connecting corridor consisting solely of a street or street right-of-way may not be used to establish contiguity. In describing the area to be annexed in the annexation ordinance, the municipal governing board may include within the description any territory described in this subsection which separates the municipal boundary from the area petitioning for annexation.

(g) The governing board may initiate annexation of contiguous property owned by the municipality by adopting a resolution stating its intent to annex the property, in lieu of filing a petition. The resolution shall contain an adequate description of the property, state that the property is contiguous to the municipal boundaries and fix a date for a public hearing on the question of annexation. Notice of the public hearing shall be published as provided in subsection (c) of this section. The governing board may hold the public hearing and adopt the annexation ordinance as provided in subsection (d) of this section.

(h) A city council which receives a petition for annexation under this section may by ordinance require that the petitioners file a signed statement declaring whether or not vested rights with respect to the properties subject to the petition have been established under G.S. 160A-385.1 or G.S. 153A-344.1. If the statement declares that such rights have been established, the city may require petitioners to provide proof of such rights. A statement which declares that no vested rights have been established under G.S. 160A-385.1 or G.S. 153A-344.1 shall be binding on the landowner and any such vested right shall be terminated.

(i) A municipality has no authority to adopt a resolution or petition itself under this Part for annexation of property it does not own or have any legal interest in. For the purpose of this subsection, a municipality has no legal interest in a State-maintained street unless it owns the underlying fee and not just an easement.

(j) Using the procedures under this section, the governing board of any municipality may annex by ordinance any distressed area contiguous to its boundaries upon presentation to the governing board of a petition signed by at least one adult resident of at least two-thirds of the resident households located within such area. For purposes of this subsection, a "distressed area" is defined as an area in which at least fifty-one percent (51%) of the households in the area petitioning to be annexed have incomes that are two hundred percent (200%) or less than the most recently published United States Census Bureau poverty thresholds. The municipality may require reasonable proof that the petitioner in fact resides at the address indicated.

(k) The petition under subsection (j) of this section shall be prepared in substantially the following form:

DATE:

To the ___________ (name of governing board) of the (City or Town) of ______________

1. We the undersigned residents of real property believe that the area described in paragraph 2 below meets the requirements of G.S. 160A-31(j) and respectfully request that the area described in paragraph 2 below be annexed to the (City or Town) of _________.

2. The area to be annexed is contiguous to the (City or Town) of ________, and the boundaries of such territory are as follows:

(l) For purposes of determining whether the percentage of households in the area petitioning for annexation meets the poverty thresholds under subsections (b1) and (j) of this section, the petitioners shall submit to the municipal governing board any reasonable evidence that demonstrates the area in fact meets the income requirements of that subsection. The evidence presented may include data from the most recent federal decennial census, other official census documents, signed affidavits by at least one adult resident of the household attesting to the household size and income level, or any other documentation verifying the incomes for a majority of the households within the petitioning area. Petitioners may select to submit name, address, and social security number to the clerk, who shall in turn submit the information to the Department of Revenue. Such information shall be kept confidential and is not a public record. The Department shall provide the municipality with a summary report of income for households in the petitioning area. Information for the report shall be gleaned from income tax returns, but the report submitted to the municipality shall not identify individuals or households. (1947, c. 725, s. 8; 1959, c. 713; 1973, c. 426, s. 74; 1975, c. 576, s. 2; 1977, c. 517, s. 4; 1987, c. 562, s. 1; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 996, s. 3; 2011-57, s. 3; 2011-396, s. 10.)