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The Fight Against Forced Annexation By John Hopkins

In 1959, during the heyday of support for communism by American intellectuals, North Carolina enacted a law allowing cities and towns to annex adjacent property in unincorporated areas without the consent of those being annexed. It is important to understand that those who oppose involuntary annexation do not oppose annexation itself, just the right of cities and towns to FORCE annexation upon people against their will and without their consent. The people being annexed have no input into the process, yet they will have imposed upon them taxation and regulation by a group of people they have never voted for or had the right to vote for. Sadly, forced annexation generally does not achieve the results that its supporters hope for. Yet, cities and towns across North Carolina continue to use forced annexation because it is a way to increase the power of elected and non-elected municipal leaders.

It is perhaps helpful to understand the history behind forced annexation. North Carolina is only one of 7 states in the United States that allows for involuntary annexation of properties by municipalities. North Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho and Kansas are the only states where annexation without the property owner's consent is permitted. Louisiana, Illinois and Oregon allow it only in limited cases. The NC Legislature passed this law in 1959 to shift the approval process on annexation from state representatives to individual municipalities. Prior to 1959 the General Assembly was required to approve all annexations, and a referendum was required if 15 percent of affected residents signed a petition. However, that soon became a burden and annexation was shifted to municipalities. Property owners no longer had an option to force a referendum or vote as equal partners.

One of the major proponents of forced, involuntary or "City Initiated" annexation is the NC League of Municipalities. The league's main argument is that forced annexation provides for the well being of North Carolina cities and points to the decay of several cities in the northern US as their justification. But I would personally argue that the lack of a forced annexation statute is not what brought down these great cities. That would be too simplistic an argument. A changing economy, unchanging union regulations, and the numerous liberal "save the world" programs would be much more viable suspects. Here in NC, while the initial intent of the forced annexation law may have been to close "doughnut holes" in municipalities so that services could be provided in a more cost-effective manner, municipalities across the state have been abusing the spirit of the law. Many are now arbitrarily land-grabbing properties in outlying areas to "grow" their tax base, to increase their own personal and political power and (in many cases) cover up financial mismanagement.

In a recent memo to supporters, the League of Municipalities argued that "Annexation opponents don't want a vote; they want a veto." Well of course we do! Think about it for a moment. In the case of Winston-Salem, if you own a home valued at $100,000 (which is not a very expensive house in today's market), you will be looking at an increased tax bill of around $500. Now if someone hands you a bill for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, would you not want to have some input into that process? A vote, a veto…SOMETHING? Of course you would, especially when you realize that that is a recurring bill that you must pay every year. Yet members of the NC League of Municipalities act as though we are somehow "picking" on them, that we are somehow being "unfair" to them because we want some input into the process. If Winston Salem can sell itself to Dell, why can't it sell itself to us, we the people?

The city of Winston-Salem tells us that their annexation is "The right thing to do." I'm sure this will soon join the lexicon of famous sayings like "We were only following orders", "This won't hurt a bit", and my favorite "I'm from the government. I'm here to help you." If annexation is such a good idea, if it has so many benefits, then why aren't its advocates willing to put it to a vote of the people? One of our founding fathers, James Madison, is quoted as saying: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." Voting is the best way to curb governmental abuse, especially in regard to annexation.

For more information on the fight against forced annexation visit us at or contact the Forsyth Citizens Against Forced Annexation hotline at 336-922-1944. To help us in our legal fight against the city of Winston-Salem, please send a contribution to Forsyth CAFA, Post Office Box 5853, Winston-Salem, NC 27113. Thank you for your support and please keep us in your prayers!

John Hopkins, President
Forsyth Citizens Against Forced Annexation
17 Jan 2006 by Editor



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