Board looks at annexation for wildlife commission property

Published 2:48 pm Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Columbia Board of Aldermen on June 5 directed the town clerk to investigate the sufficiency of a petition for annexation of a 2.75-acre tract at 637 Road Street Extended and to certify “as soon as possible” to the board the results of his investigation.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission petitioned April 19 to annex the tract previously occupied by Albemarle Service Center,  an automotive repair shop. The property is situated across the street from the Columbia fire station, which is inside the town limits.

The aldermen initiated the investigation, required by state law, immediately after hearing that the town’s planning board had reviewed the application on May 11 and recommended its approval.

Town clerk Rhett White said the investigation encompasses review of the land title in the register of deeds’ office, certification of official signatures on the petition, and a statement of the town’s capabilities to provide services to the property. He expects to report to the aldermen of July 6.

“I think the main reason is to get sewer service,” town manager Rhett White said of the petition in May. The town’s policy is to provide new sewer connections only to properties inside the corporate limits.

This is known as a “friendly” annexation, White explained to aldermen in June, and should proceed with little delay. The state General Assembly has made it extremely difficult for a town to annex property against the will of the affected landowners, he said.

The Wildlife Resources Commission is a state agency. Counties and towns cannot levy the property tax against state-owned land, so Tyrrell County lost a taxpayer in the property purchase, and Columbia will not gain one through the annexation.