Mutual Boundary Adjustment: Informing Residents and Landowners

Public Chapter 707 did not extend its requirement for a more participatory annexation process to the mutual boundary adjustment process.  Tennessee allows adjacent cities to adjust boundaries by contract to align them with easements, rights-of-ways, and lot lines “to avoid confusion and uncertainty about the location of the contiguous boundary or to conform the contiguous boundary” to these lines.51  However, there is no provision for residents or property owners to participate in these decisions and no notice or hearings are necessary.  Although mutual adjustments are rare, they may have important consequences for those being shifted from one city to another.  For example, residents may be subject to higher taxes, unexpectedly moved to a different school district, or experience a change in the level of services they receive.

Ten other states have laws authorizing cities to mutually adjust their boundaries, usually through a simultaneous process by which one city deannexes property while the other city annexes.52  Like Tennessee, three states—Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Ohio—allow cities to adjust mutual boundaries without resident or landowner consent.  Minnesota allows either residents or cities to petition for mutual adjustment, but a judge must approve it.  The other six allow affected residents or property owners to participate in the decision to move boundaries.  Arizona and Utah allow property owners to petition to stop the adjustment.  Illinois and Missouri allow residents to force an election to approve the adjustment if enough protest.  Iowa and Kentucky require property owners or voters to petition for the adjustment first.

Four of the ten, like Tennessee, have no notice or hearing requirements.53  The other six require public hearings and notice.  Four of these—Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and Utah—require notice to be published in a newspaper; Arizona requires it to be sent by mail, while Missouri requires notice but does not specify the method.  Notice timing requirements range anywhere from five days to three weeks before the hearing.54

51 Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 6-51-302.
52 Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah.
53 Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Ohio.
54 Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Utah.