By Jesse Wood
Jan. 22, 2014. As has been an ongoing source of contention between Watauga County and the Town of Boone, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners addressed the issue of extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) appointments to the Town of Boone’s board of adjustment and planning commission on Tuesday evening.
Town Manager Greg Young recently sent a draft section of the town’s Unified Development Ordinance that refers to ETJ appointments to town boards to County Manager Deron Geouque. County staff and County Attorney Four Eggers reviewed the draft and recommended some changes to language in the ordinance.
In September, the town denied county appointments to the town boards, citing “procedural deficiencies.” The two bodies then held a joint meeting in November to resolve the issue. After a two-hour meeting, the county and town came to an agreement, and the meeting ended with staff of the county and town agreeing to stay in touch to finalize the changes. The town, for one, must change its UDO to enact the changes. The town is currently drafting language on the ETJ appointments for the UDO, which is what the commissioners were reviewing on Tuesday night.
In a late December memo to the commissioners, Geouque wrote, “There is no reference to what happens if the Town fails to adopt/forward the resolution to the County. Without the resolution the County would be unable to appoint a member as currently written.”
That statement is in reference to one section of the draft that states: “The Board of Commissioners shall only appoint one person to the Board to fill a term which has expired after date of expiration and only after it had received the resolution from the Council requesting the appointment.”
In a Dec. 31 letter to commissioners and county staff, Eggers wrote: “Under this language, the Town Council could simply withhold any individual being nominated or appointed by the County Commissioners by refusing or failing to pass a resolution asking the County to fill the seat.”
Reached for comment prior to the commissioners meeting, Town Attorney Sam Furgiuele declined to comment on the topic, but Chair Nathan Miller mentioned that he spoke with Furgiuele and both agreed that this language was a work in progress that wasn’t expected to be finished after one-go-round.
The commissioners were in unanimous agreement the recommend changes back to the town and also agreed that these recommended changes were discussed during the Nov. 20 joint meeting between the commissioners and Boone Town Council that was held to resolve differences regarding ETJ appointments.
Commissioner John Welch said, “What we have is pretty much what we talked about [at the joint meeting].”
Miller suggested that Furgiuele and Eggers meet together to “hammer this out” as opposed to sending drafts back-and-forth “a hundred different times.”
“I think you and Sam ought to met so it doesn’t drag on until December,” Miller suggested.
Commissioner Billy Kennedy added, “Hopefully this is making progress so the town and county can function effectively together.”
The town had initially wanted feedback on the draft before one of its monthly meetings on Tuesday, but that happens to occur at the same time as the county meeting. County Manager Deron Geouque said that Young mentioned that it would be acceptable to review the draft as a board on Tuesday night and forward any recommendations to the town to review.
For an in-depth review of the joint meeting between the two governmental bodies regarding this issue, click here.
To read the documents referenced in this story, open the board packet of the commissioners Jan. 21 meeting.