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Annexation Lawsuit Heads to Court

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Now that Wilmington and a handful of other cities have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina’s new petition process for annexation, WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports that the issue will begin to unfold in a Wake County courtroom on Monday.

State lawmakers approved the new annexation process in June, allowing unincorporated areas to block a neighboring city’s advances if 60 percent of their property owners dissent. The cities filed the lawsuit against the state and their respective boards of elections.

Wilmington Attorney Jim Eldridge is presenting a motion to intervene so that property owners can be listed as defendants as well.

“We take the position that the outcome of the lawsuit is going to determine whether the annexations have been terminated or not, and we therefore feel since that affects the property owners in those areas, they ought to be in these lawsuits.”

In the lawsuit, Wilmington and the other cities contend the petition process, that property owners used last year to block more than half a dozen forced annexations across the state, is unconstitutional.

After growing up in Woodbridge, Virginia, Michelle attended Virginia Tech before moving to Wilmington to complete her Master in Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. Her reporting and nonfiction writing have been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, within the pages of Wrightsville Beach Magazine, and in literary journals like River Teeth and Ninth Letter. Before moving to Wilmington, Michelle served as the general manager for WUVT, a community radio station in Blacksburg, Virginia. She lives with her husband Scott and their pups, Katie, Cooper, and Mosey.