The process by which landowners can block a few North Carolina towns and cities from scooping up their land can continue while municipalities and their citizens challenge new laws that overhaul the state's involuntary annexation rules.
A lawsuit seeking a temporary stay of the new law was filed by the cities of Kinston, Goldsboro, Lexington, Fayetteville and Wilmington.
A Superior Court judge in Raleigh declined Thursday to issue a temporary restraining order to stop three county boards of elections from counting and authenticating petition documents turned in by property owners. At least two of the boards will begin the process next week. The proposed annexation would be blocked if 60 percent of the landowners formally oppose it.
Judge William Pittman questioned whether the cities and residents who sued would suffer irreparable damage without the temporary delay.
Pittman will hold a hearing on the full lawsuit in two weeks.