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NC Supreme Court Scheduled To Hear Arguments in Boone’s ETJ Case on March 22

Boone's ETJ areas (click to view larger). Map submitted by Planning & Inspections Director Bill Bailey
Boone’s ETJ areas (click to view larger). Map submitted by Planning & Inspections Director Bill Bailey

By Jesse Wood

The N.C. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the ETJ case between the Town of Boone and the State of North Carolina on March 22. The N.C. Supreme Court convenes in Raleigh at 9:30 a.m. on that day, and the local ETJ case is the first case on the day’s calendar.

Last summer, a panel made up of N.C. Superior Court Judges Alma Hinton, Nathaniel Poovey and Paul Ridgeway ruled that the abolishment of the town’s ETJ by the N.C. General Assembly was unconstitutional.

The state and Watauga County, which intervened in the case on the behalf of the state, appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court.

The town sued the state after the N.C. General Assembly passed N.C. Sen. Dan Soucek’s sponsored legislation abolishing the town’s ETJ. Soucek said that the town abused its ETJ powers by regulating areas it doesn’t plan to annex. The legislation targeted the Town of Boone and no other towns in the state – of which more than 200 have ETJs.

Soucek frequently cites “regulation without representation” when speaking about the ETJ. People who reside in the ETJ can’t vote in town elections. While the ETJ falls under the town’s regulatory policies, people who have property in the ETJ don’t have to pay taxes and don’t receive town services.

In the past, town officials have said that in light of no existing county-wide zoning, the ETJ preserves neighborhoods by offering a buffer between neighborhoods and high impact land uses.

For more background on this issue, click here for previous stories.