Moving annexation law forward

At Burnette Shutt & McDaniel, we have the experience and legal knowledge to assist with a range of annexation issues, from helping a city or town grow to aiding landowners who want to avoid being part of that growth.

Sometimes residents are eager for annexation and the services it can bring, from increased street lights to lower sewer and water rates. Homeowner insurance rates sometimes fall, too, if the annexation results in better firefighting services.

In other situations, though, landowners aren’t keen on facing additional regulations and taxes that come with suddenly being a city-dweller. Some simply don’t like the idea that their area could grow.

Sometimes cities will pursue annexation because they want to boost the tax base or a business wants city services. In other situations, property owners in “donut holes” surrounded by city will want to be brought in.

Regardless of the reason for the annexation, in South Carolina it happens only with the consent of property owners. That’s sometimes a challenge for governments as well as for property owners if enough of their neighbors oppose annexation.

If 75 percent of the property owners make the request, the city or town can simple pass an ordinance. If you’re the sole property owner in an area, that’s easy enough, assuming you can convince the local government to take you in. Otherwise, it’s time to start talking to your neighbors. As few as 25 percent of the property owners can petition for a special election that will decide the annexation at the ballot box.

That’s where we come in. We can assist landowners by reviewing annexation petitions. Our lawyers also can help cities and towns with annexation elections. We also can seek Justice Department pre-approval in situations where it’s necessary.