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krazeeboi

Revising the annexation laws

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Suppose that SC's annexation laws were revised to become more flexible. How would this positively affect our cities?

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Unfortunately, I doubt that will happen. But if it did, SC cities would be able to have larger municipal populations. That would be positive and the cities would get more credit in national rankings, etc. Also, the tax base could expand. However, in a way, I wonder if essentially suburban areas coming into the cities might not distract from downtown and intown revitalization efforts. I know that when Charleston's municipal population become majority non-penninsular with Mayor Riley's aggressive annexation efforts, there were concerns about the city no longer being as aggressive with downtown revitalization efforts, historic preservation, etc. I do not know if those concerns have proved valid over time or not. I also have heard that Greenville city officials really got behind intown revitalization efforts in part because they could not annex anything, and so they had to make the most of what they had in the city proper. The idea is to grow the city by redeveloping it rather than extended the city limits. If you really want a municipal government that is responsive to things like new urbanism, old urbanism, downtown revitalization, historic preservation, etc., bringing a lot of suburban mindset voters into the city boundary may not be the best idea. But on the other hand, it does provide more resources for local government to pursue those goals. Just a thought. And then of course, you have issues of racial balance and the Voting Rights Act. Would African-Americans who have significant clout in Columbia and Charleston want to see their power diminished by the annexation of primarily white areas? Yet another wrinkle. I think that SC's annexation laws are too restrictive and SC's cities are stunted in a sense; however, I also think that annexation is not necessarily the best answer for making Charleston, Columbia, or Greenville great cities. Size is important, but it is not everything.

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Incase you readers are unfamiliar with SC's annexation laws, I made a thread waay back that contains what the laws are. Click here to see it. I thought I read that the laws were loosened some, but I can't say for sure.

It would certainly help our population numbers. The other thing is that you would have better zoning laws over the new areas. I think it would be a good thing in principle.

Our municipalities are not completely built out, nor are they very dense. I think we could easily bulid the municipal population with out major ennexation.

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The other thing is that you would have better zoning laws over the new areas. I think it would be a good thing in principle.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You do have to be careful here. I think that cities generally have better zoning than counties, but I have seen cities actually be looser with zoning than counties to try to entice property owners to annex. Supposedly, Charleston a number of years ago was annexing its way up from Daniel Island into the Cainhoy area in part by offering weaker zoning than the county.

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To give an idea what the population of some SC cities could be, I made a quick review of adjoining census block groups / blocks over 1000 people per square mile. Concerning Charleston & Rock Hill - I didn't bother because those cities are nearly maximizing the annexation of developed / developing land.

Columbia

2000 Population: 116278

Potential 2000 Population: 223881

Greenville

2000 Population: 56002

Potential 2000 Population: 184667

Spartanburg

2000 Population: 39673

Potential 2000 Population: 71002

Myrtle Beach

2000 Population: 22759

Potential 2000 Population: 43232

Anderson

2000 Population: 25514

Potential 2000 Population: 36232

Presently the big losers are Columbia & Greenville, which could have significantly higher populations.

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^ Where did you get the information neccessary to do those calculations? I only ask because I'd like to do this with other cities as well...

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^ Where did you get the information neccessary to do those calculations?  I only ask because I'd like to do this with other cities as well...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

First it would help if you have access to GIS software, otherwise I wouldn't bother. But the data used is municipal boundaries, census block group & census block points - which I use in combination to get an estimated city population (I rarely use census block polygon data except for my current long term project).

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This is actually a post that I was doing on another thread and I decided to put it here since it was more appropriate. SC has restrictive annexation laws. That is a given. But a number of cities have been able to do perfectly fine even with them. Charleston and North Charleston are the two best examples perhaps. But even Rock Hill and Sumter have had great annexation success. A decade or two ago, Sumter went from around 24,000 to 40,000 quickly thanks to annexation (of Shaw AFB granted, but a lot more too). Aiken has also been quite successful annexing on its south side. Then the suburban municipalities have been successful too - Mount Pleasant, Summerville, Forest Acres, Simpsonville, North Augusta, etc. My point is that while is it hard to annex thanks to the state laws, it is not impossible. So, why are suburban residents near Charleston or North Charleston or Aiken more willing to be annexed than suburban residents near Anderson or Columbia. Is it an issue of city leadership? Is it an issue of poor relations with the suburban communities? Is it an issue of poor reputation of the city amoung suburban communities? Is it Columbia angering suburbanites via its strip annexation of Columbiana Center or its water contracts that require annexation if the property become contiguous to the city? Do you get more with a carrot or a stick? Is it a good thing to annex areas that do not want to be annexed? In other words, could Greenville or Spartanburg or Columbia change strategies to come up with a way to entice suburbanites into voluntary annexation? Other cities seem to have done so. And then there are cities like Orangeburg where annexation quickly becomes a race issue and is never seriously pursued. I also do not think that everything in a UA should necessarily be in the central city's boundary. I do think urban areas should be in a municipal boundary since counties really are not set up to service urban areas. But if Mount Pleasant has the urban area between the Cooper, Wando, and Intracoastal instead of Charleston, that is fine with me. I do not think everything from Jedburg to downtown or from Mount Pleasant to Kiawah should be in the Charleston city limits. That area would be too sprawling and split by waterways to be effectively serviced as a single city. There just seems to be a lot more complexity with this issue than just the state laws (which are again too strict).

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A recent example (earlier this year) which probably explains to primary scenario why a SC area may want to be annexed occurred in Aiken. About 300 homes in the Gem Lakes subdivision in Aiken were having serious problems with their waste disposal systems, like backups, stench, etc. They begged the city to connect them to the sewer system, and the city rightly refused, unless they decided to be annexed. So the city strongarmed about 200-300 homes to be annexed into the city. I can imagine that this similar scenario occurs in other cities, where subdivisions just want city services. If the county services are strong enough, this isn't necessary. The cities just need to provide better services than the outlying areas are receiving.

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Here in my view is a possible check list:

For existing inhabitants of a subdivision / community:

* police / fire protection

* water / sewer / waste services

* protect property rights due to more restrictive zoning

For developers:

* utility services

* greater potential of developable space

But essentially - for people outside of Greenville, what would require them to be convinced to be annexed, would be on the level of a county revolt. This is occuring in Fulton County outside of Atlanta - a large number of people have requested annexation into the suburbs of Roswell & Alpharetta as well as proposing the incorporation of Sandy Springs. If residents feel their tax dollars are not being effectively spent, which in the case of counties that have to serve a huge population - they will bail. That sometimes could mean requesting to join another county (Lancaster / Kershaw County battle decades ago) but more often being annexed.

And perhaps that could be a future possibility - for popolous counties that serve those outside of municipalities, they have to function like a city. In many ways, Gwinnett, Cobb & , Dekalb County in metro Atlanta are cities - they provide all the basic services as well as zoning. But again - if the residents feel their tax dollars are not being spent effectively, or they are not receiving quality services - that would make the difference. Greenville & Spartanburg Counties will face the greatest test in the coming years.

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Cities are required to offer water, waste, and protective services. Outside of that what can they offer? That way that cities have to annex is by using water or sewer serveices as leverage. If you want the city to provide your water, you should be willing to be a part of it. Many cities require you to sign some document that says you will agree to be annexed at some point in the future. That is how places like Greer and Rock Hill have been so successful. Most of their growth has been recent, so they have been able to start annexing before much of the established growth. This is opposed to Greenville- which has alot more existing development around its city limits

One way that a city could ecourage annexation, though I don't think it could be done easily, is to use its police services. The City of Greenville has an excellent police department. If you look at a map of crimes in Greenville County you can see that they basicly stop around the city limits. I'm not saying Greenville is crime free, but that it seems to me that the city offers better protection.

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Cities are required to offer water, waste, and protective services. Outside of that what can they offer?

A more comprehensive land use plan & provide greater community involvement in decision making for the area.

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My point is that while is it hard to annex thanks to the state laws, it is not impossible. So, why are suburban residents near Charleston...more willing to be annexed than suburban residents near Anderson or Columbia. Is it an issue of city leadership?

...But if Mount Pleasant has the urban area between the Cooper, Wando, and Intracoastal instead of Charleston, that is fine with me. I do not think everything from Jedburg to downtown or from Mount Pleasant to Kiawah should be in the Charleston city limits. That area would be too sprawling and split by waterways to be effectively serviced as a single city. There just seems to be a lot more complexity with this issue than just the state laws (which are again too strict).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

To answer your earlier question, I think it mainly has to do with zoning variances, leadership, and, most importantly, taxes for utilities. In my hometown, the city's taxes are becoming less than the PSD's for James Island and West Ashley. More than 85% of West Ashley is in the city, so the St. Andrews PSD is more expensive because it has less and less people to support it. James Island is slightly different whereas the PSD is more expensive than the city, but the PSD picks up trash twice a week (the city only does it once). More importantly, some of the residents on James Island despise Mayor Riley, because they think that he wants continued annexation of the island only to support development projects in the historic district. That is just plain ludicrous. If it weren't for the areas of the island already in the city limits, more uncontrolled sprawl would be occurring, there would not be adequate police and fire services, and the area would have virtually NO recreation facilities.

I agree with your assessment of other cities to provide services primarily because of the geographical barriers. It would not makes sense for one city to support water and trash out to Kiawah or Jedburg. There are reasonable causes to have other surburban cities. Mt. Pleasant can have their area east of the Cooper, because that has always been Mt. Pleasant. But this town is starting to over-extend itself as well, which has caused towns like Awendaw and McClellanville to start annexing areas.

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A more comprehensive land use plan & provide greater community involvement in decision making for the area.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That is true, but I meant in terms of annexation. Those are great things, but the average person likely wouldn't consider things like that. They would take the lower taxes and less restrictive zoning outside of the city. I know I would. But itf the situation were like charleston native described, then it could be very different.

I understand that it is the local option sales tax that creates the lower taxes in our cities, and thus an increase in annexation requests. Its a shame we can't get more of these passed.

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That is true, but I meant in terms of annexation. Those are great things, but the average person likely wouldn't consider things like that. They would take the lower taxes and less restrictive zoning outside of the city. I know I would. But itf the situation were like charleston native described, then it could be very different.

I understand that it is the local option sales tax that creates the lower taxes in our cities, and thus an increase in annexation requests. Its a shame we can't get more of these passed.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Quite seriously, though this might not be the case in SC yet, there have been citizens that have petitioned various cities to be incorporated for various reasons. Primarily - counties either have lax zoning standards or no zoning standards which results in unpopular developments occuring. Sometimes - citizens actually do wise up & realize the only manner of having some control over their neighborhood is to be annexed. The push to create Sandy Springs is one example here in Atlanta.

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STRONGER CITIES FOR A STRONGER SOUTH CAROLINA (PDF file)

The above link is to a speech given to the Municipal Association of South Carolina in 2003 by David Rusk, a well-known urban policy expert and a former mayor of Albuquerque (1977-81) and state legislator in New Mexico. He is author of Cities without Suburbs (1993; 3rd edition 2003), Baltimore Unbound (1995), and Inside Game/Outside Game (1999).

If you guys haven't read this, I encourage you to do so. He basically paints a picture of how SC can better manage its cities under the current annexation laws.

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Thanks for posting that link. That was quite posisbly the best article I ahve read about our annexation laws. I reccomend that anveryone read it... its an easy read, shouldn't take too long either. However, if nothing else, read the reccomendations on page 9.

I think that the state's laws need to be changed to make things happen here. Being proactive is the best solution for now, but ultimately something bigger will have to happen.

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^Do you think that the favorable conditions that exist to transform SC's economy into a high-tech kind with the hydrogen/automotive research that will take place here will be the catalyst in seeing changes of this kind (and others) occur?

Geesh, that was a long question. LOL

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Ya'll think they'll be revised by the end of the decade?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:rofl:

That's a good one !! Which decade are you referring to?

I do remember an attempt to pass legislation in the early to mid-70's to liberalize the annexation laws. I wrote all my representatives and senators and told them to support the bill. I was like 10 at the time (yeah I was a nerd). Needless to say, it didn't go anywhere. Very few legislators, have served on city council or even county councils. Very few have any real knowledge or even concern really about the challenges cities face, or the importance of having vibrant ones.

They perceive liberal annexation as just forcing high taxes on their constituents. Therefore, they see no reason to to change the laws. In fact, they just passed overwhelmingly a new incorporation law which encourages incorporation of new suburbs to suck the life out of central cities.

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