What is Annexation?
Annexation is the systematic expansion of a city's corporate boundaries into
unincorporated (not already part of a local governmental jurisdiction) areas,
and a corresponding extension of city services to the newly-annexed areas. North
Carolina state statutes allow cities to undertaken annexation as long as certain
development characteristics exist within the areas considered for annexation. In
1959, the North Carolina State Legislature revised the statute that governs how
cities may annex adjacent areas. The law stipulates that areas can't be annexed
unless they meet the following two requirements:
certain characteristics of
urbanization must exist, and
the annexing city is prepared
to provide the areas to be annexed with all the facilities and services that
are provided within the existing city limits.
If these two requirements are
met, in addition to other less significant requirements, the cities are
authorized to annex as long as specific procedures are followed.
In Charlotte, annexation is considered to be a continual process. On a biennial
basis (every other year), numerous areas adjacent to the City of Charlotte are
evaluated for possible annexation under the requirements of State statute. (The
City of Charlotte has had a policy of annexing with an effective date of June
30th of every odd-numbered year.)
For areas eligible for annexation under the State statutes, plans are developed
to provide all required municipal services and an estimate is made of the cost
of providing such services. This helps determine the financial feasibility of
annexing eligible areas.
Why does the City of Charlotte Annex?
Annexation has enabled Charlotte and surrounding urban areas to avoid many
problems other cities and metropolitan areas have experienced. If the City did
not expand its limits, ultimately it would find itself surrounded by vast
suburban areas that would not participate financially in meeting the needs of
the total urban community. Meanwhile, Charlotte's residents and property owners
would find themselves disproportionately responsible for funding the local
service needs of the community.
Through annexation, the tax base of the entire urban area is available to meet
the needs of the urban area. Additionally, the City of Charlotte can offer
public services in an efficient, consistent, equitable, and cost-effective
Many residents and property owners of newly annexed areas benefit from having
improved fire protection, municipal traffic management and street maintenance,
street lights, availability of basic water and sewer facilities, solid waste
(garbage) collection, and other standard municipal services which the City of
How Does an Area Qualify for Annexation?
In order to qualify for annexation, an area must meet several specific
requirements set forth in the State statutes.
First: an area must be adjacent to Charlotte's city limits, at least one-eighth
of the external boundary of the area must coincide with Charlotte's boundary,
and the area can't already be within the boundary of an incorporated
Second, in order for an area to qualify for annexation, it must have certain
urban development characteristics. An area qualifies if its developed portion
meets one or more of several development standards, summarized below:
(1) the area has a population
of at least 2.3 persons per acre; or
(2) the area has a population of one person per acre, and is subdivided into
parcels such that at least 60% of the total acreage consists of lots three
acres or less in size and such that at least 65% of the total number of lots
are one acre or less in size; or
(3) the area is developed so that at least 60% of the total number of lots are
used for residential, commercial, industrial, institutional or governmental
purposes; of the total residential and undeveloped acreage more than 60%
consists of lots and tracts three acres or less in size; or
(4) the area is developed such that all lots in the area are used for
commercial, industrial, governmental, or institutional purposes.
In general, the requirements are
designed to discourage or prevent cities from annexing large tracts of vacant or
rural land before they are developed to the stated standards. Under certain
conditions, vacant land may be annexed if it is in conjunction with annexation
of land meeting the standards above. Specifically, annexation may include areas
not developed for urban purposes but which constitute "necessary land
connections" between the City and areas which do qualify, or between two areas
which qualify. However, these areas can't exceed 25% of the total area to be
The state annexation statutes can be found on the
NC General Assembly website
What are the Annexation Procedural Requirements?
Before an area can be annexed, the City of Charlotte must carefully measure
and document the land characteristics of a candidate annexation area, and
document how it meets the annexation standards.
Staff at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department are responsible for
collection of data concerning land development and population growth which helps
determine qualifying annexation areas in accordance with the four development
standards listed above. The Planning Department staff determines which areas
qualify for annexation in accordance with the State statutory requirements.
The City must also develop a
service report indicating how it intends to serve the area with public
services such that these services will be provided at substantially the same
levels as those within the present corporate limits.
The City must also indicate how
it intends to finance the extension of the above services.
On the date of annexation, the
City must begin to provide fire protection, garbage collection, and street
maintenance services to the area.
The City must also provide
extension of water mains and sewer lines into the annexation areas so that
property owners may obtain water and sewer service within 3 ½ years of the
The service reports developed for
each annexation area detail the public service information and provide
information on the characteristics of the area qualifying it for annexation.
During the annexation process these reports are available for review at the
Planning Department and in the City Clerk's Office, as well as on Planning’s
How frequently does the City of Charlotte annex property?
For a number of years, the process described above has been undertaken every
two years, so that the City has followed a schedule with an annexation effective
date of June 30th of odd-numbered years (2009, 2011, etc.). However, procedural
changes that need to be made by Charlotte in response to significant legislative
changes affecting annexation made by the State during 2011, make a 2013
Charlotte annexation somewhat unlikely.
Can the City of Charlotte annex an area already in one of the towns
(Huntersville, Mint Hill, etc.)?
Charlotte cannot annex an area already incorporated into another local
municipality. Charlotte and the four towns in Mecklenburg County with which
Charlotte shares boundaries (Mint Hill, Matthews, Pineville, and Huntersville)
have mutually agreed upon boundaries - called "spheres of influence" - beyond
which each entity has agreed not to annex. One municipality cannot annex
property within another's sphere of influence. Therefore, no unincorporated area
of Mecklenburg County is eligible to be annexed by more than one Mecklenburg
municipality. In addition, the City of Charlotte has annexation agreements with
the towns of Weddington, Stallings, Marvin, Concord, Midland, and Harrisburg
(all outside of Mecklenburg County) under which the City has agreed not to annex
property in Union and Cabarrus Counties (where these towns are located). Those
municipalities have also agreed not to annex property in Mecklenburg County
within Charlotte's sphere of influence.
What are the benefits of annexation to property owners and homeowners within
Beginning on the effective annexation date, property owners in annexation areas
become eligible to receive City services, such as fire protection, trash
collection, and street maintenance. The City of Charlotte already provides
police protection services in annexation areas through the Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Police Department. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD), a City
department, already provides water and sewer services throughout many areas of
Mecklenburg County and uses the same rates and service policies for both City
and non-City customers. If water and sewer services aren't yet available in
annexation areas, the City will install water and/or sewer lines within two
years of the date the annexation becomes effective.
My property taxes are paid by the bank that holds the mortgage to my home.
Will the City notify the bank or mortgage holder that the property has been
annexed into the City of Charlotte?
No direct notification will be made to the bank or mortgage holder of the newly
annexed property. However, the tax bills sent out early in September (many of
which are sent to banks) will reflect the combined City and County taxes for the
current fiscal year, and since the Tax Collector's Office is a combined
City/County agency, the bank will make tax payments to the same place after
How do property taxes work in conjunction with annexation?
To illustrate, property tax bills that were sent out in September 2011 for
fiscal year (FY) 2012 (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012) reflect the property
tax rates established for FY 2012 by Charlotte City Council (for City taxes) and
Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners (for County taxes) in June 2011. The
fiscal year 2012 combined (City and County) tax rate for City properties was
approximately $1.26 per $100 of tax value.
The City tax rate for FY 2012 (for the period from July 1, 2011 through June 30,
2012) is $.437 per $100 of property tax value.
Are there policies and
regulations (other than those specified in the State annexation laws and
statutes) that govern what and how Charlotte can undertake annexation?
In cooperation with many of its neighboring municipalities, Charlotte has
developed a series of annexation agreements that establishes Charlotte's sphere
of influence as the area within which Charlotte may annex, that sets forth
certain annexation notification obligations, and also establishes other
procedural responsibilities between and among the cities and towns involved.
Charlotte currently has annexation agreements with Davidson, Cornelius,
Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and Pineville in Mecklenburg County,
Stallings, Weddington and Marvin in Union County, and Concord, Harrisburg and
Midland in Cabarrus County.
Additionally, Charlotte has established a set of policies aimed at better
guiding both City-initiated and voluntary annexations. These policies may be
Can a property owner make a
request for the City of Charlotte to annex his or her property without first
having it located within an area that qualifies for annexation?
The State annexation statutes allow for property owners to petition for
"voluntary annexations" under specific circumstances. For instance, the property
must be contiguous to the current City limits, or it must be in closer proximity
to City boundaries than to other nearby incorporated municipalities.
More specifically, the property must also fall within Charlotte's
Extraterritorial Jurisdiction and according to Charlotte's voluntary annexation
policies, three other requirements must be met:
annexation of the property
cannot create an unincorporated area entirely surrounded by areas incorporated
within the City of Charlotte.
annexation cannot negatively
affect City services or budgets, and
annexation cannot create a
situation that makes it more difficult to undertake subsequent annexation in
Petitions for voluntary
annexations are made through the City Clerk's office. Forms and instructions can
be viewed by clicking here (Click on “Forms and Applications” and then
“Voluntary Annexation Forms”)
A pre-application meeting between the property owner and City staff is generally
recommended, in order for staff to fully explain the process and preliminarily
assess whether the potential petition will adhere to applicable State statutes
and City policies.
When does Charlotte expect to undertake its next annexation?
For many years, Charlotte has undertaken annexations on a two-year cycle. In
2011, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted SL2011-396, a new law changing
the way cities and towns in North Carolina can undertake annexations. This new
law is viewable by clicking on the link below:
The law significantly
alters public notification requirements, the allowable amount of time between
events in the annexation process, and the manner in which utilities are to be
extended into annexation areas. Prior to undertaking another annexation,
Charlotte staff will need to evaluate the procedural and policy changes that
must be put in place in order to respond to the provisions in PL2011-396, and in
order to continue to successfully and effectively complete future annexations.
Once that evaluation is completed, a schedule can be developed for the next
annexation cycle. Charlotte will continue its long-standing practice of keeping
owners of properties in annexation qualifying areas notified during key points
during the annexation process, and of making annexation information available to
property owners as well as to all citizens of Charlotte.
Updated: January 17, 2012