Recent census data shows that since April 2010, North Augusta’s population has grown more than 10%. The city is growing physically too, through annexations.
There were four annexations in 2019, 31 since 2010. City Council has already passed two annexations and taken votes on two others this year.
Annexation is the process the city and property owners go through in order for the city's corporate limits to be changed and include that piece of property.
The recently acquired North Augusta Country Club property off Gregory Lake Road and a piece of property which borders it are two of those properties that have been voted on in 2020. Those two properties alone will add almost 500 acres to North Augusta’s city limits. The Country Club is not yet inside city limits; a third vote still has to be taken on it. The contiguous property, meaning it abuts another piece of property, is now inside city limits.
Interim City Administrator Rachelle Moody said benefits to the city from annexations include ensuring the city is adequately represented in the U.S. House of Representatives, and she mentioned the upcoming census as one of the drivers for recent annexation ordinances being brought to City Council.
Moody said there are so few annexations each year that the practice does not affect the city's tax base nor do they have an impact on the tax rate.
"Typically, large parcels we annex are undeveloped and have a minimal impact on our tax base. It's not until parcels are developed that they contribute enough to impact the overall tax base," she said.
Other benefits for the city she mentioned include federal funding and economic development reasons like recruiting businesses.
Moody also mentioned there are benefits for the property owners who are annexed. Benefits she mentioned include lower utility rates, being in the city’s public safety department’s jurisdiction, membership at the activities center and others.
Annexation can happen a number of ways, said Moody.
One of those ways is annexation agreements.
“If there’s a property outside the city limits that is already on our utility system, water or sewer, at the time that property came onto our system, they signed an annexation agreement,” Moody said.
That agreement is the property owner’s consent to being annexed into the city once the property becomes contiguous and is touching city limits. The annexation agreements are binding for all future property owners.
There are 215 signed annexation agreements on file with the city clerk’s office, according to city clerk Sharon Lamar.
Around 40 of those are currently contiguous, said Planning and Development director Libby Hodges.
Moody said once a property is identified to be contiguous and have an agreement on file, the Planning and Development department is responsible for handling everything.
She said Hodges will put together a letter notifying people their property will be annexed and answers any questions they may have, then the property owner signs a petition. The city attorney reviews everything, an ordinance is prepared and it’s presented to City Council.
Along with those annexation agreements, anyone who owns property contiguous to the city limits can voluntarily go through the annexation process.
That’s the case for the property next to the Country Club property, Moody said.
“That is one that it’s completely undeveloped property, the city is contiguous to that property, so those property owners were willing to come into the city, and so they sign an annexation petition to come into the city,” she said.
The annexation of that property made it possible for the city to begin the process with the Country Club property, since its annexation made the Country Club property contiguous with city limits.
Other cases of annexation may include if a new development is being constructed, if it is next to the city limits and need to use city utilities, it will be annexed even before homes and other buildings are built, Moody said.