Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Annexation bill on deck this week

Earlier this year, South Carolina Representative Mary Tinkler (D-Charleston) introduced the Local Government Efficiency Act in the General Assembly. If passed, H4834 would allow cities and towns to annex enclaves into their municipal limits. Enclaves are properties that are completely surrounded by a city but not within the municipal limits. 

This bill is scheduled for a hearing on April 13 at 9:30 a.m. in the Special Laws Subcommittee of House Judiciary chaired by Rep. Jenny Horne.

“The bill‘s sponsors—eight Republicans and four Democrats—clearly show that the challenges posed by enclaves are not partisan,” said Scott Slatton, the Association’s legislative and public policy advocate.

Bill cosponsor Representative Kit Spires (R-Lexington) expressed his desire to reduce enclaves after hearing from Pelion Mayor Barbara Smith-Carey about the issues her town faces when dealing with enclaves.

Mayor Smith-Carey cited three reasons why it’s important to her to bring enclave properties into her town: keeping enclave residents safe with town police protections, protecting property values through code enforcement and equity among residents who receive town services. 

“I support all efforts to encourage efficiency within government,” explained Representative Neil Collins (R-Pickens), another cosponsor. “I applaud Representative Tinkler and H4834’s intent to allow municipalities to better offer public services to their areas.” 

Enclaves create irregular borders and pockets of unincorporated areas that lead to confusion about which properties are in or out of a city. That confusion leads to delayed or inefficient delivery of services from the mundane like trash collection to potentially life-saving services like police and fire. 

The Local Government Efficiency Act would allow a city council to annex, by ordinance, properties of 25 acres or less that have been surrounded by the city for five years or more.

The 25-acre threshold was determined after Association staff consulted with city and town managers and administrators from across the state. They indicated that the bulk of their city’s enclaves were 25 acres or less and that those enclaves were the greatest challenges to efficient service delivery.

If the proposed Local Government Efficiency Act becomes law, the city must notify owners of the enclave properties proposed for annexation of the city’s intention to annex their property. The city must also hold a public hearing conducted at least 30 days before first reading of the ordinance to annex.

The notice provisions in the bill are consistent with those in current law dealing with municipal incorporation, zoning and other land use measures.

Learn more about enclave annexation here.

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