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RALEIGH, NC (AP) – The process by which landowners can block a few North Carolina towns and cities, including Wilmington, from scooping up their land can continue while municipalities and their citizens challenge new laws that overhaul the state’s involuntary annexation rules.

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.

The lawsuit was filed in part by the cities of Goldsboro, Lexington, Kinston, Wilmington and Fayetteville.

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

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