CHARLOTTE-The City Council will soon vote on whether to approve the annexation of seven new areas, with a combined population of roughly 22,500 residents. This annexation would increase Charlotte’s population to more than 540,000.

Bob Binford, property manager for Mecklenburg County and also in charge of transportation planning activities, tells “in North Carolina, cities can annex areas when it reaches a certain population density, and the cities generally do this.”

According to Binford, the cities and towns have worked out areas of influence so that each city and town annexes within these areas, and the city of Charlotte is no exception.

“In general,” Binford says, “if you live close to an urban area in North Carolina, you’re going to be annexed. And the city of Charlotte basically annexes areas roughly every two years.”

That’s when the city evaluates the areas just outside its borders to see which ones have developed to the point that they require city services. Because of North Carolina’s liberal annexation policies, Charlotte is already one of the largest cities in the country in terms of land mass. The Queen City’s land mass is larger than Boston, St. Louis or Miami.

This year Charlotte has pinpointed seven fast-growing communities around the Interstate 485 area. People in the areas being absorbed often object to becoming city residents and paying higher property taxes.

By adding more people and land to its ledgers, Charlotte has avoided some of the economic problems found in cities such as Atlanta and Birmingham, AL. These cities are geographically squeezed and surrounded by suburban towns.

The City Council will vote again Jan. 8, after a series of public hearings. The seven areas would become part of the city in June. Property owners in the annexed areas, currently paying for private garbage service, would then have the benefit of city garbage trucks. The city would also maintain the streets.

According to city planner Dick Black, the city expects to add even more residents in the next round of annexations in 2003.

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