If you are close to the City boundary and in an urban or urbanizing area, annexation may help you receive high quality urban services in the most affordable way possible.  

When you annex your property into the City of Columbia, you gain our municipal services.   Our goal is to provide high quality municipal services, efficiently, effectively, and responsively- and many homeowners find that they actually save money when they annex.  

You also gain the opportunity to fully participate and vote in city government, and you do not lose your representation on County Council or change school districts upon annexation.    

We are all Columbia- whether you are formally within the boundaries of the City of Columbia or not, we are all part of the same community, and together we will build a world class city!  As highlighted in City Council’s Vision Statement, our goals are focused on attracting and retaining talent, planning together, connecting our community, empowering our residents, economic prosperity, enhancing Columbia’s neighborhoods, and leading the way in innovative and high quality municipal services.



More Information:



Contact


Andrew Livengood, Annexation Coordinator


Address

1136 Washington Street
3rd Floor
Columbia, SC 29201

Phone

(803) 545 3217






How to Annex:

If your property meets the basic requirements and you want to annex into the City of Columbia, the process is:


1

Request annexation (by petition)

2

Review and public meetings

This basic process is the same whether you are owner of a single property or you and your neighbors wish to become a part of the City of Columbia.  The Planning Division, with the assistance of other City staff, is responsible for the facilitation and management of the annexation process, which is governed by State Law, City Code, and City policy.

If you are ready to annex, or just want more information, please contact the Annexation Coordinator for assistance!


Basic Requirements

There are some basic requirements in order to have your property annexed into the City of Columbia:

  • Contiguity
    • In order to annex, a property or community must be contiguous (adjacent to) the City of Columbia.  You may check to see if you are contiguous to the City by entering the address into the City Information Viewer.  
    • Not contiguous but close to the city?  Let us know; we may be able to help.
  • Ownership
    • Most annexations (with the exception of the electoral method) require a petition signed by the property owners.  

How to Request Annexation

Whether you are an individual property owner or if your community is interested in annexation, all annexations requests begin with a petition signed by the affected property owner(s) or electors within the area to be annexed.  
  • Contact us 
    • A completed Property Information Sheet will help us make certain we have current information.  If you are proposing development of property adjacent to the City limits, we will be glad to arrange a pre-application conference with relevant City staff to help the process go smoothly.
  • Creating the petition
    • We will need a copy of the current recorded deed and a plat or survey of your property in order to prepare a petition for the owner(s) of record to sign.  If you don’t have these on hand, both the deed and the plat may usually be found at the Richland County or Lexington County Register of Deeds Office, though in many cases we are able to assist in obtaining these items.
    • The owner(s) of record will need to sign the petition.  If you have the property under contract, let us know and we can tailor the petition to your situation.

Review

Once we receive your petition, City staff will review the ability of the City to provide services and schedule your petition for review by Planning Commission and City Council.  After affirmative votes by City Council on two separate occasions (1st and 2nd readings), the annexation is approved.

Annexation

Welcome to the City of Columbia!  The effective date of the annexation is stated within the annexation ordinance and is generally the date of the 2nd reading, or vote, on the annexation.


The Zoning and Future Land Use maps of the City of Columbia must be amended to include the new property within the City limits pursuant to SC Code §6-29-530 and §17-206 of City Code.  Generally these amendments are reviewed concurrently with the annexation request, though the maps may be amended following annexation if the situation warrants.


Notification of Service Providers

Once your property is annexed, we’ll communicate with your service providers to ensure that they know you are in the City of Columbia.  It may take a billing cycle for any bills to be updated with the new information, but City of Columbia services, such as solid waste and recycling, should begin immediately.  


Also of Note:

Three Methods of Annexation:


Title 5, Chapter 3, of the South Carolina Code of Laws authorizes three main methods of annexation:

  • Petition by 100% of freeholders and ordinance 
  • Petition by 75% of freeholders and ordinance
  • Petition by 25% of electors, special election, and ordinance

Most annexations to the City of Columbia have been by direct petition of the property owner (100% method).  This is usually a single or small number of properties, and is initiated in order to obtain new city services, or in order to satisfy a declaration of covenant that was executed in exchange for the extension of water or sewer service to the property.

If a community or group of adjacent properties wishes to be annexed, a petition from a super-majority of property owners (75% method) or a petition from 25% of the registered voters followed by a special election (Electoral method) may be more appropriate.


Covenants:


Pursuant to City of Columbia policy, if your property is contiguous with the City of Columbia and you desire new water or sewer service, or if it is subject to a declaration of covenant, you will be required to annex the property into the City. 

The City of Columbia Department of Engineering will not review your plans for new water and/or sewer service, or sell a water meter until a signed, stamped petition for annexation or a declaration of covenant (for non-contiguous properties) is received.





Why Annex?


Cost or Savings?

How can you pay taxes to the County AND City, and still save money?  Homeowners typically see savings because of the effects of annexation on four common bills- Property tax, Vehicle tax, Water/Sewer, and Electric/Gas.  The actual financial impact of annexation is unique to each property and household, but the “average” homeowner can save hundreds of dollars a year.  Please try our Annexation Calculator to see how you are affected!

Other questions are answered at our Frequently Asked Questions page- or please contact us for more assistance!


Services

When you annex into the City, you gain access to a number of valuable, high quality services and benefits.


The City of Columbia is committed to excellence in customer care and constituent service for our residents and businesses.  The City strives to facilitate a smooth transition of annexed properties from unincorporated areas into the City, and once annexed we send notice to your service providers about the change of status of your property.  For more information about the services that change after annexation, extra steps you can take to save money, and to learn how to deal with any unlikely hiccup that may occur, please contact us.  

Here are some resources to get you started:


Participate!

We Are Columbia- together we will build a world class city.  Here in the City of Columbia, our citizens are our greatest resource.  That’s why we’re proud to provide you with a wide variety of community service opportunities.  You can help map our city’s future by serving on a City Board or Commission, mentor at-risk youth, join one of our 93 city neighborhood organizations, or create your own community group.  If you live in the City of Columbia, you can make a difference.





Urban Service Area


The Urban Service Area defines areas outside the City of Columbia that reasonably could be provided with City services.  Some of these services, such as water and sewer, may already be available beyond the City limits but are subject to out-of-city rates.  Other services are only available to properties within the City of Columbia.   

City Council adopted the Urban Service Area in 2009, the result of an effort to provide guidance to the public and staff in establishing priorities for annexation.  Location of a property within the Urban Service Area does not mean that annexation of the property is imminent; rather the four sub-areas within the Urban Service Area reflect a general ranking of the City of Columbia’s ability to provide municipal services to the areas.  Ultimately, whether or not to annex a particular property is a legislative decision of City Council.  

The four sub-areas within the Urban Service Area are:  

Image of Donut Hole (illustrated in red)

Donut Hole

Unincorporated area surrounded by municipality

Will generally be annexed when petitioned

Image of Primary Areas (illustrated in yellow)

Primary Areas

Contiguous or nearby parcels with adequate service availability

Will generally be annexed when petitioned

Image of Secondary Area (illustrated in green)

Secondary Areas

Contiguous or nearby parcels that have some service concerns

May require additional review to determine ability to service prior to annexation.

Illustration of Long Range Area (illustrated in grey)

Long Range Areas

Areas beyond Primary and Secondary areas or that have more service concerns.

May require additional review to determine ability to service prior to annexation.

When a request for a new or expanded water or sewer service is received or the property is redeveloped, the City of Columbia will require a petition for annexation for contiguous properties within Donut Holes and Primary Areas, or a Declaration of Covenant for non-contiguous properties in these areas.  When a request for a new or expanded water or sewer service is received or the property is redeveloped within Secondary or Long Range Areas, either a petition or Declaration of Covenant may be required, at the discretion of the City.


Annexation Urban Service Area Plan (2009)

Urban Service Area Map





Frequently Asked Questions


The FAQs below are some of the most commonly asked questions about annexation.  If you would like more information, or your question is not answered here, please contact us.


What is Annexation?

Annexation is how the City of Columbia, or any city or town, extends and increases its corporate limits. Individual property owners or communities may petition for annexation if they are contiguous, or adjacent to, the boundaries of the City of Columbia.

Isn't it More Expensive if I Come Into the City?

Homeowners- Most homeowners who annex save money, in part because solid waste services to one-and two-family dwellings are included in your city property taxes, and due to lower water and sewer rates for in-city properties.  Visit the Why Annex? page or use our Annexation Calculator to learn more about how being in the City of Columbia can save you money each year, or contact us.

Commercial properties- Each commercial property and business has unique characteristics, and it is difficult to make any accurate generalized statement about the financial impact for these types of properties.  Some helpful information is on our Why Annex? page; please contact us at [email protected] or 803-545-3217 for additional assistance.

Will I Have to Pay Two Tax Bills if I Annex?

No, you pay County and City taxes, but you will only receive one tax bill.  Furthermore, City of Columbia residents pay no annual solid waste or hydrant fees.

Will I Lose Any Services by Annexing?

No, the City of Columbia is a full-service city government.  In fact, as a resident, you will see an increase in available services.  A City Services Guide is available on our Why Annex? page, or you can always contact us if you have a question about how annexation affects a particular service.

Will My School District or Attendance Zones Change?

No, school district boundaries are independent of the City boundary.

Will My Zoning District Change?

In most cases, the zoning district of newly annexed land will be similar to the zoning district prior to annexation.  However, the City of Columbia, Richland County, and Lexington County all have different Zoning Ordinances, so in this sense all annexations result in a rezoning, also known as a zoning map amendment.  If you have development plans for your property, please contact us for a consultation regarding the zoning and land use classification of your property.  The Zoning Division may be reached directly at 803-545-3333.

Will I Lose My County Council Representation if My Property is Annexed?

No, all City of Columbia residents are also County residents and in addition to your new representation on City Council, you will still be represented by your member of County Council.  In fact, 10 of the 11 Richland County Council Districts extend within the City limits.  Currently, the portions of the City of Columbia within Lexington County are in Lexington County Council District 7.

What City of Columbia Representation Will I Have if I am Annexed?

All City of Columbia residents have 4 representatives on City Council.  On the seven-member City Council, there are four Council District Councilperson, two at-large Councilpersons, and the Mayor.  For more information, visit www.columbiasc.net/city-council. 

What is a Covenant and How Does it Affect My Property?

In relation to real property, a covenant is an agreement or promise to do or not do some action.  As a condition of providing City water or sewer service to a property, the City requires that adjacent properties are annexed.  If the property is not adjacent to the City of Columbia, a declaration of covenant is signed and recorded wherein the property owner agrees to annex the property into the City after it becomes adjacent, and to bind all future owners of the property to this agreement.  If a water service covenant applies to your property and you are adjacent to the City of Columbia, you must petition for annexation into the City upon request.  The City of Columbia Engineering and Utilities Department will not review your plans for new water and/or sewer service, or sell you a water meter until a signed, stamped petition for annexation or a declaration of covenant (for non-contiguous properties) is received.

How Do I Annex Into the City of Columbia?

To begin the process, contact us, and we will guide you through the process.  Helpful materials are also available on our How To Annex page.