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By GARY D. ROBERTSON
Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — Property owners who don’t want their land swallowed up by a North Carolina municipality against their will may soon have a new method to stop it.

Proposed legislation expected before a House committee Tuesday would prevent a town or city from assuming an unincorporated area if enough landowners file protest petitions. The bill stops short of allowing referenda to block such involuntary annexations, as some citizens embroiled in land fights prefer.

Bill sponsor Rep. Nelson Dollar of Cary said protest filings would give landowners a voice in such annexations for the first time in more than 50 years.

The lobbying group for municipalities has opposed the referendum idea but calls the change only slightly better to other pending legislation that could lead to a lengthy moratorium on forced annexations.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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