WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Tuesday night following a closed session, the Wilmington City Council agreed to take immediate steps to provide city services to residents in the Monkey Junction area. The Council made the determination in the wake of a court ruling last week that the new annexation statutes approved by the General Assembly in 2011 are unconstitutional.
According to state law, the Monkey Junction annexation became effective the day the court made the ruling, which was March 27. Wilmington City Manager Sterling Cheatham says the city felt it had to take steps to begin providing city services to comply with state law and to protect the city from potential liability even though the ruling could still be appealed or the General Assembly could still make further changes to the annexation laws.
“We must follow the law and also take the necessary steps to protect the city even as further legal challenges or reforms to the law are considered,” said Cheatham.
A Wake County Superior Court judge ruled on March 27 that the new annexation statutes approved by the General Assembly in 2011 are unconstitutional. This was the first legal ruling on statutes enacted by the General Assembly in 2011 that require cities to get approval from a majority of affected property owners before annexations can go forward. Wilmington and four other NC cities that had active annexations in process when the new law was passed filed a lawsuit earlier this year challenging the constitutionality of the new statutes.
The City Council annexed the Monkey Junction area in 2009 in accordance with state law in place at the time. Subsequent legal challenges to the annexation were turned down by both the New Hanover County Superior Court and the NC State Court of Appeals.