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Seven Oaks in city limit?

LAKE WYLIE -- Within weeks, Belmont could move a giant step closer to bringing one of the largest area land tracts into city limits.

N.C. Rep. Wil Neumann, who represents Gaston County, sees little opposition to a bill that would change how satellite properties -- ones not currently touching city limits -- can be annexed into Belmont. No longer would properties be limited to containing 10 percent of the area within the city, a change designed to allow annexation for the 700-acre Seven Oaks property at the mouth of Catawba Creek.

"Annexation is a dirty word right now, so we're stressing it's voluntary satellite annexation," Neumann said Monday.

Both city officials and land developers expressed interest to Neumann for the change, which passed the House in late April and now sits in the Senate Committee on Finance. The final House vote of 106 in favor and 8 against indicates to Neumann the bill is fairly well received.

"There's no one else being impacted except the developer," he said of the single property. "I don't see it having many problems moving forward. It passed lickety split on the House side."

Neumann does not expect the bill to be taken up by the Senate this week, but expects movement soon.

If the bill passes, Seven Oaks could add a significant tax base to Belmont, which in turn could provide city services such as water and sewer. Crosland, since working to acquire the Seven Oaks property in 2006, is "committed" to bringing residential development, spokesman Bill Norton said.

Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman said the annexation before development could help the Catawba River because city limits could mean stricter standards for utilities, he said.

"In terms of sewage and wastewater, cities have more strict standards than an unincorporated area," Merryman said.

Neumann has not heard opposition to the plan.

To follow the bill, visit and search H280.