Annexation Moratorium

Brent Finnegan -- March 7th, 2008

Those that have lived here longer than I have remember the fight between Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County over so-called “hostile annexations,” when the city was expanding its boundaries in the 1970s. In 1980s, Virginia’s General Assembly passed a “temporary” moratorium on cities annexing into counties.

That moratorium is set to expire in 2010. Last year, Del. Matt Lohr’s bill to extend the annexation moratorium to 2020 was rejected by Governor Kaine. This year, Sen, Emmett Hanger submitted a different bill concerning the moratorium that passed the Senate and the House, and is ready to go before Governor Kaine.

From an editorial in the Lynchburg News & Advance:

That effective 23-year ban on annexations was supposed to be a period of time of study for legislators and state government, a time to devise a plan to reform the structure of local government in Virginia.

Instead, it’s been a time of thumb twiddling and buck-passing for the so-called leaders of the commonwealth.

Virtually every city is this state is stressed to the breaking point financially. Unable to grow physically in size, new businesses and industries inevitably locate to surrounding counties where there’s open land to develop. It just so happens that, in nine cases out of 10, that development is just outside the city line, close enough to the area’s hub to benefit and also to suck tax revenue from the city.

The financial burdens to cities across the state are increasing exponentially every year: schools, roads, police, fire […]

In the suburb-dominated Assembly, it would seem to be a sure bet for passage, effectively putting any moves to address the problems inherent to the structure of local government on hold for another decade.

That was until Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a former mayor of Richmond, very bluntly said he’d veto any extension of the ban.

But Harrisonburg City Council Member, Charlie Chenault says he has no desire to expand the city limits, should the moratorium expire.

“We work in conjunction with the county on a lot of things to foster cooperation,” Chenault said, listing the landfill and water sharing among them. “Annexation is expensive. You have the city and the county fighting over land, duplicating a lot of things near the city-county line, like water lines. It’s just not something we’re interested in doing.”

Of course, if Kaine does veto any extension of the moratorium, the Assembly still has another year to work out a deal that they apparently haven’t been able to figure out in the last 23 years.

8 Responses to “Annexation Moratorium”

  1. George says:

    Senator Hanger’s bill will not extend the annexation moratorium. Briefly, the law states that if the General Assembly does not fully fund what is known as the HB599 funds (for local law enforcement), then the moratorium will automatically expire at the end of the biennium in which they do not fully fund it. Senator Hanger’s bill holds harmless the 2008-2010 Biennial Budget to give the General Assembly more flexibility.

  2. finnegan says:

    Thanks for the clarification, George. I updated the post to reflect that info (specifically, that Hanger’s bill is not an extension, but it does deal with the moratorium).

  3. Thanh says:

    I don’t know anything about this issue between the Town of Dayton and Rockingham County, other than what is discussed in this DNR story a few weeks ago, but I thought it should be shared here:

    Dayton Looking To ‘Adopt’ A Wal-Mart Posted 2008-02-29
    County Considering Town’s 1,400-Acre Annexation
    http://www.dnronline.com/search_details.php?AID=15297&CHID=1&key=dayton&title=&author=&channelid=

    It appears to me that its not a hostile annexation, so the moratorium doesn’t apply (?). It appears that its an annexation that has been in agreement between Dayton and Rockingham, pending some modifications described in the article.

  4. cc says:

    Towns within a county are under different rules than indepentant cities.

  5. cc says:

    Oops, that’s “independent.”

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