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Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch announced a feasibility study on Tuesday for a potential merger of Kingsclear and Hanwell. (CBC)

The Department of Local Government is launching a feasibility study to assess whether the local service districts of Hanwell and Kingsclear should merge or remain independent.

Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch announced the study on Tuesday, the latest of a series of changes to how small municipalities and unincorporated areas are governed.

The feasibility study will examine whether Hanwell and Kingsclear should be combined into a rural community, form separate rural communities or remain as local service districts.

"The study will enable residents of the two local service districts to assess if and how one rural community or two separate ones might better serve the needs and interests of the community than the current model," Fitch said in a statement.

"The broader community – including residents, community organizations, service providers and businesspeople of the two local service districts – will be consulted as part of the study."

The study will assess potential boundaries, a name for the new community, a number of councillors, potential services and tax levels.

Local residents, organizations and businesses are being consulted through a roundtable process, which is being led by Peter Michaud.

Fitch could authorize a plebiscite in the two communities if the study revealed it is feasible to create a rural community.

Fitch announced a similar study on Aug. 14 in Lincoln, which is also near Fredericton.

Jim Arbeau, the chairperson of the local service district advisory committee in Lincoln, is leading a roundtable process to see if the community should become a village.

There are 30 different proposals around the province that are considering some sort of restructuring.

There are eight feasibility studies currently underway, according to the provincial government.

The provincial government is also preparing a feasibility study regarding the amalgamation of Sussex and Sussex Corner.

Several other communities are at the early stages of studying potential mergers.

Fitch announced a local governance plan in December 2011. At the time, he said he hoped there would be 100 fewer municipalities within the next year.

The plan included incentives to persuade rural areas to co-operate or merge with other towns and villages.