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Council Directs Staff To Forward UDO Section Regarding ETJ Appointment Process To County

By Mark S. Kenna

Dec. 18, 2013. Boone Town Council approved the UDO (Unified Development Ordinance) Tuesday night and directed staff to forward sections regarding the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) appointment procedures to the town’s Board of Adjustment and Planning Commission to staff of Watauga County.

In light of the joint meeting between the Watauga County Board of Commissioners and the Boone Town Council, Town Attorney Sam Furgiuele was directed to prepare proposed changes to the UDO regarding appointment procedures of ETJ members of the Board of Adjustment and the Planning Commission.

“One of the things that the county commissioners complained about when you met with them was that there were qualifications which were described for the ETJ members,” Furgiuele said to the council on Tuesday.

The section of the UDO pertaining to qualifications does apply to ETJ appointments but not to the Town appointments, Furgiuele added.

The qualifications for town appointments for the ETJ are:

  • That they live in the town
  • That they’re willing to familiarize themselves with the UDO and the Comprehensive Plan 
  • That they apply the provisions in the UDO and the Comprehensive Plan.
  • That they express a willingness to serve

However, the perception of the county commissioners is that Boone would only appoint members who agree with the UDO and the Comprehensive Plan, Furgiuele said.

The Board of Adjustment acts as court and is guided by town law, so there is no reason to worry that the members of the Board of Adjustment would not apply the ordinances of the town — UDO, Comprehensive Plan and the 2030 plan, Ferguiele added.

“You have a right to expect that they will apply those principles in good faith whether they agree with them or not,” Furguiele said.

As a way to prevent lapses in positions when vacancies occur, the town clerk will forward to the county clerk a list of the current members of the Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustment, designating the ETJ members and the expiration date of their terms by Jan. 15 of each calendar year.

They typically expire at the end of June. This will supply enough time to advertise for the vacancy, Furgiuele said.

When a vacancy occurs in an ETJ position, before the term ends, the town clerk will notify the county clerk, in writing, of the vacancy at least 60 days before a vacancy occurs. The town clerk will then let council know at the next meeting, so that the town clerk can begin to solicit applications and post a notification of the vacancy on the town website, according to the UDO draft.  

At the next council meeting after the vacancy is announced, council will adopt a resolution requesting that the county commissioners appoint a qualified person directing the town clerk to forward the resolution to the county clerk with names of those who applied for the position through the town and council recommendations.

But, if the county does not make an appointment within 90 days after receiving the resolution from Town Council, the power to appoint returns to town council, Furgiuele said.

There is no reason to wait until the end of the term in June to start the application process and leave gaps in positions. This is something that County Commissioners complained about, Furgiuele said.

“We want to try and dovetail the terms as well as me can,” Furgiuele added.

 Councilwoman Lynne Mason agreed with the revised appointment process.

“This represents the spirit of the conversation we had,” Mason said. “It does a good job of fostering better communication and creating a process for us as well as a process at the county level.”

Council agreed to have Town Manager Greg Young communicate with the County Manager Deron Geouque about the appointment process before any formal action is taken to consider it.

Read more about the joint meeting between the county and town here