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New method to stop forced annexation blocked

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The fight over forced annexation in North Carolina continues, after a judge struck down a law giving property owners a voice in the process.

Lawyers confirmed that Judge Shannon Joseph said in Wake Superior Court yesterday she would enter a written order striking down the petition process.

The law passed in 2011 terminated involuntary annexations in cities if 60 percent of the landowners in the annexed areas signed a petition within a roughly four-month period opposing it. The town or city would be barred from trying again to annex the area for three years.

Property owners in Monkey Junction, which Wilmington tried to annex, and in neighborhoods around Southport had successfully overturned their annexations. James Eldridge, an attorney for Monkey Junction residents fighting annexation, told WWAY he does not agree with the judge’s decision. He also said he knew the legal battle would have to be decided ultimately by a higher court.

Several municipalities with pending annexations, including Wilmington, sued late last year, arguing the new laws are unenforceable because they only give landowners the right to sign the petitions, not all voters.

–The Associated Press contributed to this story

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