What is Annexation?
Annexation is the process by which a municipality expands its boundaries into nearby areas not already incorporated into the municipality. Annexed areas may be contiguous to the current corporate limits, or may be “satellite” areas not bordered by the current corporate limits. Annexation should not be confused with a municipality’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). While both annexation and ETJ extension expand the borders of the town’s regulatory jurisdiction, annexation includes additional costs and benefits to the property owner and the town, as further described below.
What are the benefits of being annexed?
For the Town of Wendell, the benefit of annexation is that it helps ensure the orderly and efficient delivery of services to areas which are developed to urban densities. The town also receives additional revenues generated by an increased tax base. The primary benefit to the property owner is access to municipal services – mainly water and sewer. Other municipal services provided to annexed properties include local police protection, parks and recreation services, solid waste services, and local maintenance of roads (unless otherwise maintained by NC-DOT). While the property owner will become subject to town property taxes (in addition to county property taxes), they may also experience an offset to those increased taxes in the form of reductions in water and sewer rates, and elimination of the Wake County tax levy for fire protection services.
North Carolina General Statutes (Chapter 160A, Article 4) establishes the legal framework for a municipality to expand through annexation of additional properties into its corporate limits. In general, annexation is broken into two categories: 1) “Voluntary” or “Annexation by Petition”, and 2) “Involuntary” or “town-initiated”. The vast majority of annexations in the Town of Wendell are voluntary annexations. These types of annexation requests typically occur as developers seek to gain access to municipal water and sewer needed to support their project.
Town policy requires that annexation petitions be submitted by property owners that wish to connect property outside of the town limits to municipal utilities. This policy applies to undeveloped lots, as well as developed lots which are not currently connected to municipal utilities. Annexed property must connect to both water and sewer, unless one or both services are deemed by the Town to be unavailable for connection due to distance or other factors.
Property owners seeking annexation must submit all forms contained within the town’s Annexation Packet to Wendell Planning Department Staff in order to be eligible for annexation. The annexation packet includes an annexation petition form, annexation schedule, and a list of annexation plat requirements. Additionally, per general statute the petitioner shall submit a signed statement declaring whether or not any zoning vested right with respect to the properties subject to petition has been established. Prior to submittal of the annexation petition, the petitioner must meet with planning staff for a pre-submittal meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to allow planning staff to briefly review the submittal and provide guidance to the applicant prior to submittal and payment. Annexation submittal fees are subject to change each fiscal year. The current fee for annexation requests is $350.
Once an annexation petition is received by town staff, the Town Manager shall place the annexation request on the Town Board’s agenda for an upcoming meeting. The Town Board will then direct the clerk to certify the sufficiency of the petition and set a public hearing date. The Wendell Planning Board does not make recommendations for annexation requests. At the public hearing, the Board of Commissioners shall receive information from the Town Clerk, Planning Department Staff, and the applicant and may make a ruling on the annexation request. The entire process typically takes approximately two months to complete.