Annexation of Commercial Properties

Last modified on June 9th, 2022 at 10:24 am

In West Virginia, “annexation” refers to the expansion of a city’s boundary by adding new territory. There are several paths to annexation. This page concerns the voluntary annexation of commercial properties, when property owners request to be brought into the city in order to access city services and protections.

Read on to learn why businesses should consider annexation, the consequences of too many businesses operating just outside a city’s boundary, and which businesses and organizations have recently requested annexation.

This page also explains the voluntary annexation process and provides resources to support that process, including a downloadable template letter for requesting annexation of your property.

Why Should Businesses Consider Annexation?

Located in West Virginia’s Allegheny Highlands, Elkins is the seat of Randolph County. The city is a tourism and outdoor-adventure base camp within easy reach of numerous recreation and cultural opportunities. Elkins is also home to a regional hospital complex, a college, the headquarters of the Monongahela National Forest, the Jennings Randolph Federal Building, and an excursion train company that hosts about 30,000 visitors a year. Each fall, some 75,000 people attend the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins.

Thousands of people live, work, and play here each day, in other words, and it’s no surprise that there are so many businesses in the area serving them. Some of these businesses are inside city limits and some are outside. All have access to the same customers, so what does it matter exactly where they are located?

Put simply, businesses inside Elkins help sustain and grow the amenities and services that make this community so attractive to so many people; they also have access to the city’s elected and appointed officials to share suggestions and help shape the city’s plans and policies. Businesses located outside city limits don’t.

Yes, those located inside city limits pay business and occupation taxes and must collect an additional 1 percent in sales tax from their customers. But these funds play a crucial role in helping the city further strengthen its position as the area’s commercial hub–and the more businesses who annex into Elkins, the more possible it will become to reduce the business tax rates.

Here is a sampling of what businesses inside Elkins help support–and benefit from:

  • The only 24/7 police agency in the area, which recently added 3 officers and is planning additional growth
  • Lower-cost trash removal, including on-demand bulk pickups
  • Paving and maintenance of city-owned streets
  • Prompt snow plowing
  • Recently updated zoning laws with an emphasis on encouraging investment and preserving neighborhood character
  • Enforcement of building construction and maintenance standards
  • Nuisance abatement
  • Planned, well-maintained parks and green spaces

What Happens When Businesses Operate Outside of Cities?

If the commercial area just outside Elkins continues to grow without annexation, there will be downsides for businesses and residents both inside and outside of city limits.

  • Rapid development and population growth occurring just outside the city boundaries creates fringe areas that can produce problems with traffic congestion on inadequate roads; the need for increased police and fire protection; and inadequate land use planning resulting in disorderly growth.
  • These “fringe” areas also complicate governmental jurisdictions, which can lead to administrative confusion, inefficiency, duplication and excessive costs.
  • Unifying urban areas reflects the fact that economic and social ties between in-city and out-of-city areas are strong. Outlying areas benefit from city parks, recreational activities, streets, utilities, and other services without contributing a proportionate share to the cost.

Which Businesses and Organizations Have Sought Voluntary Annexation?

Businesses and organizations that have sought voluntary annexation to Elkins in recent years include the Randolph County Development Authority, the Elkins Rehabilitation and Care Center, Elkins High School, Midland Elementary School, North Elementary School, Third Ward Elementary School, Allegheny Power, Randolph County Housing Authority, Davis Trust Company, Save-a-Lot, Family Dollar, Davis Health Systems DirectCare, and properties developed by the nonprofit Woodlands Development and Lending.

How Does Annexation Work?

Bringing a commercial property into the city at the request of its owner is a simple process. In addition to a letter signed by the property owner or owner’s agent requesting annexation, a surveyor’s plat and a legal description of the property must also be submitted to the city clerk’s office. (A template letter may be downloaded here.) After city council approves the annexation via ordinance, and if all required steps have been followed, the Randolph County Commission is required by state code to enter an order ceding the annexed property to the city.

As soon as this order is made effective, the Elkins boundary is adjusted to include the property. The city boundary includes the right-of-way of Beverly Pike, also known as “the five-lane,” making it easy for any property fronting on that roadway to annex into Elkins. This is also true of U.S. Rt. 219/North Randolph. Newly annexed properties will also be assigned to an appropriate zoning category.

What Happens After Annexation?

Here are some of the changes that would occur as a result of annexation:

  • 24/7 police response and protection, with officers never more than three miles away
  • Enhanced property values and business predictability due to city planning and zoning, code enforcement, building inspection, and dilapidated structure remediation
  • Access to city appointed and elected officials
  • Slight increase in real property tax (i.e., increase of $250/year per $50,000 of assessed value
  • Requirement to purchase a city business license ($25)
  • Businesses required to charge the state 6 percent sales tax would have to collect an additional 1 percent from customers

Annexation Resources

 

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