The North Carolina House has given overwhelming support to an agreement that would change dramatically rules for towns and cities that want to expand their boundaries against the will of property owners.
The bill was approved by a vote of 102-13 and awaits a final vote Monday before it heads to the Senate.
The bill came about after people in several cities complained about being annexed. In Kinston 1200 people from the Briarwood, Crest View and Hickory Hills neighborhoods were annexed after a 2009 city council vote. A court fight later upheld that annexation.
The House gave its initial approval to overhaul the 1959 law governing involuntary annexations.
It would allow property owners to block the annexation if 60 percent of them oppose it through a formal petition in a roughly four-month period. Landowners also could receive water and sewer service free of charge if enough people request it.
The bill is backed by grass-roots annexation reform groups.