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A Case for Changing SC's Annexation Laws


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The Spartanburg House delegation has approved a bill that would ask voters if they favor enacting laws making it easier for municipalities to annex property. "The non-binding referendum would be held in conjunction with next year's local primaries." The bill now moves to the Senate delegation.

While this doesn't accomplish anything major, it does set the stage to start a dialogue instead of letting it die in a committee like usual.

Spartanburg senators Scott Talley and Jim Richie are supporters of the annexation improvement laws.

Richie's proposal would:

  • Simplify the process for municipalities to close "doughnut holes" - areas of 50 acres or less outside the city boundaries that are surrounded by property inside the city limits.
  • Allow a municipality to annex areas adjacent to the city limits when the population of the area is at least 2.3 people per acre.
  • Require 60 percent of property owners in an area to agree to annexation instead of the current 75 percent.

"Talley also said there is a "split," but that it is philosophical rather than personal. We've got the same goal as these bills in having a vibrant city center," Talley said. "I just think there are ways to get there other than growing government."

Now, I am curious to know what these other ways are. I've studied this stuff for a quite a while now, and I have yet to see a better alternative. If there were one, you can bet that cities accross America would be pouncing on it. I am not in favor of growing government unnecessarily- But I think its necessary to distinguish between Federal, State, and local governments. Local government has the ability to respond to its people in a more proactive way than the other two.

Herald-Journal

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The Special Purpose District lobby in South Carolina seems to be fairly strong, so I doubt that will go anywhere. It would be a very good thing for South Carolina cities though.  

It would be nice for SC's cities to stop looking like swiss cheese.

SC Supreme Court rules against Awendaw annexation The S.C. Supreme Court ruled this week

It's good to know that some noise is being made about this issue before the current session is over. I was afraid it was going to be an exact repeat of last year (and probably the year before that). Kudos to the Spartanburg delegation for pushing this issue to the forefront!

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^ Great editorial. You would think a similar editorial would be made in Chas's P & C, especially with all of the ridiculous different municipalities in Chas County and the James Island fiasco, but they have remained silent on the issue. I wonder if that is because of Glenn McConnell's stranglehold of power in the region? He is a staunch opponent of better annexation laws...hell, he even created the insane incoporation laws for James Island to incorporate, which will be brought to the state supreme court later this year.

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  • 7 months later...

There are some changes being proposed to SC's annexation laws due to this week's highly controversial Green Diamond annexation by the Town of Cayce. Please see the Green Diamond thread in the Columbia section for more information on that issue. The tactic of annexation used by developers in this case is more common along the coast. They annex into a municipality with weaker zoning or regulation practices in order to develop their project at lower standards. While this practice is legal, it represents extremely poor growth practices.

Representative Ben Hagood of Charleston says he will introduce an annexation reform bill. No word on what the bill will actually address. I'll add that I'm not optimistic about it, since all of the other annexation reform bills have stagnated in some portion of the General Assembly (usually the Senate).

The State

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There are some changes being proposed to SC's annexation laws due to this week's highly controversial Green Diamond annexation by the Town of Cayce. Please see the Green Diamond thread in the Columbia section for more information on that issue. The tactic of annexation used by developers in this case is more common along the coast. They annex into a municipality with weaker zoning or regulation practices in order to develop their project at lower standards. While this practice is legal, it represents extremely poor growth practices.

Representative Ben Hagood of Charleston says he will introduce an annexation reform bill. No word on what the bill will actually address. I'll add that I'm not optimistic about it, since all of the other annexation reform bills have stagnated in some portion of the General Assembly (usually the Senate).

The State

If it's based on the issue of the Green Diamond project (from my limit knowledge of it), it seems like it might would take annexation backwards instead of forwards. Making it easier to annex land doesn't seem like it's going to prevent cities with lower standards from annexing projects. How do you see this changing our laws?

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I'm not optimistic about it either. We have such a warped view of things when it comes to issues like this in the state. Our primary urban centers, which largely drive the state's economy, are essentially handcuffed and those residents, which represent the majority of the metro area population, suffer while smaller municipalities and unincorporated areas are free to do whatever they wish in the name of personal and economic "freedom."

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I think that this is great. The General Assembly will no doubt turn this down unless they can find a way to prevent cities from strategically annexing around properties an annexing them later. Its going to take one change at a time, but I'm hopeful that eventually we will have a solid set of annexation laws in this state.

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That was a really good editorial by Warren Bolton.

I've come to the conclusion that those in the "good ol' boy" club--the club that shapes state policy--really don't want to see any progress. They are still stuck in an era when SC was a prosperous agrarian state and Charleston was the king of the South. They haven't even entered the 20th century yet, much less the 21st century. They want the status quo to remain and will gladly pander to their backwards-thinking constituency to keep it enforced.

It's more than just about reforming annexation laws; it's a general mindset which isn't going away until an entire generation passes off the scene.

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I think 'backwards thinking constituency is a bit strong. I grew up in Lower Richland and saw the way Colatown and Richco county councils were behaving. I wanted no part of that, and that's why I live in Cayce. I'd hate to be annexed into Columbia, I truly would.

Not that Cayce hasn't made a huge blunder, IMO, right before the end of the year.

I think people around here generally like the small town vibe and don't want the Columbia area to become a Charlotte.

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^^^^

The thing is Capt.....1 of the cities in this state has to step up and be more than a mid-sized city...if not SC is just like ND, SD, NH, ME. MS, MT and others. I mean the surrounding areas of each metro are full of rural sections that could appease those who want small town vibes. I don't think anyone in the state wants to become the next Atlanta, but the next Charlotte isn't bad [how they are currently].

I just don't understand it...the city of Columbia can be as great as it one was, but instead too many people want to pretend like it's still a small town where everyone knows each other. I hate that Columbia has to shoe-string annex to get to a certain area...i hate how Forest Acres annex areas just to block Columbia...not for any other reason but just to make growth more difficult for Cola-town. I hate seeing how part of the city is in a neighborhood and a few blocks within aren't.

The city of Greenville would flourish greatly if allowed to grow appropriately...and i feel the same about Charleston. It's just too much red tape to even try and the pandering that goes on between counties and cities are ridiculous.

You either want this state to become richer or you don't. We don't have agriculture and textiles to depend on anymore. Manufacturing jobs have taken a hit and this state's officials just weren't ready to cope with change. We have to grow and attract more people...we can't depend on tourism only. This will aways just be great for the coast but the rest of the state will be at a loss. Look at this state...you have people that will look at the city populations and think "wow it's not that many people there" and they choose to relocate elsewhere. The same with obtaining federal funds and etc...we will always get less than needed because city populations in this state don't reflect the truth.

These laws have to be relaxed....even if it's just so we could change the perception of how people look at our state. People are acting too selfish....those are going to be the same people that aren't prepared for the "big switch" from analog to digital by the tv stations. :ermm:

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I'm gonna disagree to a point. I think Columbia is better now than it has ever been in a lot of ways. But I grew up in the area, and I don't want to become Charlotte like. I love it the way it is, which is why I moved back to the area.

I respect the way you feel about growth, just have a different opinion on it. No biggie.

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Over all, our cities have all suffered. One need only look at any NC city to see what a more city-oriented government structure can do. However, I think that Charleston has aggressively annexed areas, and I would say it has captured a good deal of its suburban growth where it can. Columbia has done a poor job, but not as bad as Greenville and Spartanburg, who have not annexed any new growth at all by comparison.

In case it wasn't noticed, the biggest proponent of annexation law reform, Jim Ritchie was defeated for renomination. Of course, it's not like it was going anywhere anyway.

That was unfortunate, but IMO Sen. Ritchie was overdue for replacement.

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I think 'backwards thinking constituency is a bit strong.

Understand, I'm not talking about all small town residents here, even those who might live in a larger metropolitan area. But when you live in a larger metro area, you can't expect to have everything like a small town and still receive city benefits. For some people, anything that raises their taxes, they are flat out against it--even if it means better services and an overall better quality of life. It's also backwards-thinking how this generally conservative, Republican state will approve another layer of government in the form of a paper town in a minute.

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I'm gonna disagree to a point. I think Columbia is better now than it has ever been in a lot of ways. But I grew up in the area, and I don't want to become Charlotte like. I love it the way it is, which is why I moved back to the area.

I respect the way you feel about growth, just have a different opinion on it. No biggie.

Believe it or not, there are still people here in Charlotte that feel the same way about their city. And if there was any city on its way to being the next Atlanta, this is it.

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That article wasn't really about annexation, but more about the end of suburban white flight in larger cities. The larger cities mentioned in the article are going to be the major beneficiaries of this "reverse migration" trend, and not so much smaller to midsized cities like our Big Three. As David Rusk said in his report "Stronger Cities for a Stronger South Carolina" for the Municipal Association of SC, SC's cities don

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