1136 Washington Street, 3rd Fl
Did You Know?
At its founding by the General Assembly in 1786, the City of Columbia consisted of about 400 blocks in two square miles on the east bank of the Congaree River. It wasn’t until 1907 that the city first outgrew its original boundary and annexed part of what is now the neighborhood of Elmwood Park.
Annexation is the method by which a city or town extends and increases its corporate limits. Communities or individual property owners may petition for annexation if they are contiguous to the boundaries of the City of Columbia.
When you annex 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.
Please see the links below for more information on annexation:
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. For help with any of the steps below, or if you would just like additional information, you may reach us at: [email protected] or 803-545-3217
The Process in a Nutshell:
1 – Basic Requirements:
There are some basic requirements in order to have your property annexed into the City of Columbia:
2 - How to Request Annexation:
All annexations requests begin with a petition signed by the affected property owner(s) or electors within the area to be annexed. Whether you are an individual property owner or your community is interested in annexation, contact us at 803-545-3217 or [email protected] to get started.
Creating the petition
3 - City Review:
After affirmative votes by City Council on two separate occasions (also known as the 1st and 2nd readings), the annexation is approved. The effective date of the annexation is stated within the annexation ordinance and is generally the date of the 2nd reading.
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 although these maps may be amended following annexation if the situation warrants.
3 - After Annexation:
Once your property is annexed, we'll communicate with your service providers to ensure that they know you are in the City of Columbia. If you are unable to resolve an issue with a service provider regarding your new status within the City of Columbia following annexation, please let us know so that we may assist.
Title 5, Chapter 3, of the South Carolina Code of Laws authorizes three main methods of annexation:
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.
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.
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- however will be 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.
The four sub-areas within the Urban Service Area are:
Unincorporated area surrounded by municipality
Contiguous or nearby parcels with adequate service availability
Contiguous or nearby parcels that have some service concerns
Long Range Areas
Areas beyond Primary and Secondary areas or with more service concerns
Whether or not to annex a particular property is a legislative decision of City Council. However, the Annexation Urban Service Area Plan provides guidance. This guidance extends to prioritizing the areas and communities adjacent to the City staff should work with to encourage annexation.
Contiguous properties which are within Primary or "Donut Hole" Urban Service Areas as identified on the Urban Service Area Map will generally be annexed into the City of Columbia when petitioned. Properties within an identified Secondary Urban Service Area may require additional review to determine the City’s ability to service the area prior to annexation into the City of Columbia.
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.
View the following documents for more information about the Urban Service Area :
If you desire or require annexation into the City of Columbia, please contact Andrew Livengood at (803) 545-3217 or by email to [email protected] to initiate the process.
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 at [email protected] or 803-545-3217.
Annexation is the method by which a city or town extends and increases its corporate limits. Individual property owners and communities in unincorporated areas may petition for annexation if they are contiguous to the boundaries of the City of Columbia.
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. In fact, the average homeowner will save about $425 a year by annexing into the City of Columbia (this is based on a $150,000 home, $17,000 in personal vehicle value, and average water & sewer usage). To learn more about how being in the City of Columbia can save you money each year, visit the Annexation Analysis page, or contact us at [email protected] or 803-545-3217.
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 Annexation Analysis page, and please contact us at [email protected] or 803-545-3217 for additional assistance.
No, you will only receive one tax bill. Furthermore, City of Columbia residents pay no annual solid waste or hydrant fees.
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 Annexation Resources page, or you can always contact us at [email protected] or 803-545-3217 if you have a question about how annexation affects a particular service.
No, school district boundaries are independent of the City boundary.
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 at [email protected] or 803-545-3217 for a consultation regarding the zoning and land use classification of your property. The Zoning Division may be reached directly at 803-545-3333.
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.
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.
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.
To begin the process, contact us at [email protected] or 803-545-3217, and we will guide you through the process. Helpful materials are also available on our Annexation Resources page.