162A-35. Procedure for inclusion of additional political subdivision or unincorporated area; notice and hearing; elections; actions questioning validity of elections.

If, at any time subsequent to the creation of a district, there shall be filed with the district board a resolution of the governing body of a political subdivision, or a petition, signed by not less than fifteen per centum (15%) of the voters resident within an unincorporated area, requesting inclusion in the district of such political subdivision or unincorporated area, and if the district board shall favor the inclusion in the district of such political subdivision or unincorporated area, the district board shall notify the board of commissioners and the board of commissioners, through its chairman, shall thereupon request that a representative of the Department of Environmental Quality hold a joint public hearing with the board of commissioners concerning the inclusion of such political subdivision or unincorporated area in the district. The Secretary of Environmental Quality and the chairman of the board of commissioners shall name a time and place within the district at which the public hearing shall be held. The chairman of the board of commissioners shall give prior notice of such hearing by posting a notice at the courthouse door of the county and also by publication in a newspaper circulating in the district and in any such political subdivision or unincorporated area at least once a week for four successive weeks, the first publication to be at least 30 days prior to such hearing. In the event all matters pertaining to the inclusion of such political subdivision or unincorporated area cannot be included at such hearing, such hearing may be continued to a time and place within the district determined by the board of commissioners with the concurrence of the representative of the Department of Environmental Quality.

If, after such hearing, the Commission for Public Health and the board of commissioners shall determine that the preservation and promotion of the public health and welfare require that such political subdivision or unincorporated area be included in the district, the Commission for Public Health shall adopt a resolution to that effect, defining the boundaries of the district including such political subdivision or unincorporated area which has filed a resolution or petition as provided for in this section, and declaring such political subdivision or unincorporated area to be included in the district, subject to the approval, as to the inclusion of such political subdivision, of a majority of the qualified voters of such political subdivision, or as to the inclusion of such unincorporated area, of a majority of the qualified voters of such unincorporated area, voting at an election thereon to be called and held in such political subdivision or unincorporated area. When an election is required to be held within both a political subdivision and an unincorporated area, a separate election shall be called and held for the unincorporated area and a separate election shall be called and held for the political subdivision. Such separate elections, although independent one from the other, shall be called and held within each political subdivision and within the unincorporated area simultaneously on the same date.

If, at or prior to such public hearing, there shall be filed with the district board a petition signed by not less than fifteen percent (15%) of the registered voters of the district requesting an election to be held on the question of including the political subdivision or unincorporated area in the district, the district board shall certify the petition and if found adequate, shall request the county board of elections to hold the election in the district. The election in the district may be held at the same time as the election in the political subdivision or unincorporated area seeking to become a part of the district.

The county board of elections shall give notice of the elections as required in G.S. 163-33(8) and shall conduct the election.

The cost of the election in the district shall be paid by the district board and the cost of the municipal election by the municipality. The county shall pay the cost of an election in the unincorporated area. The governing body of the political subdivision shall file an accurate description of its boundaries, and those persons signing the petition for an unincorporated area shall file an accurate description of its boundaries with the board of elections at the time the petition is filed with the district board.

The elections shall be held and conducted in accordance with the applicable provisions of Articles 23 and 24 of Chapter 163 of the General Statutes.

The ballot shall contain the words:

"FOR inclusion in the ____ Metropolitan Water District of ____ County that area known as ____."

"AGAINST inclusion in the ____ Metropolitan Water District of ____ County that area known as ____."

If a majority of the votes cast in a political subdivision or unincorporated areas proposed to be included are in favor of inclusion, and a majority of the votes cast in the district favor inclusion, then from and after the date of the certification of the results such area or areas shall be a part of the district and subject to the debts of the district.

The results of the elections shall be certified to the district board.

If no election is required to be held in the district, then a favorable vote for inclusion in the political subdivision or unincorporated area shall be deemed to include such area or political subdivision as a part of the district and they shall be subject to the debts of the district.

No right of action or defense founded upon the invalidity of any such election shall be asserted, or open to question in any court upon any grounds unless the action or proceeding is commenced within 30 days after the results have been certified by the board of elections. (1971, c. 815, s. 5; 1973, c. 476, s. 128; 1981, c. 185; 1985, c. 462, s. 17; 1989, c. 727, s. 219(41); 1997-443, s. 11A.123; 2007-182, s. 2; 2011-31, s. 14; 2015-241, s. 14.30(u), (v); 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-146, ss. 3.1(a), (b), 6.1.)