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Watauga Commissioners To Meet Tuesday To Consider Planning Board’s Recommendations on Boone Losing ETJ


Editor’s Note: The Watauga County Board of Commissioners will meet Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 5:30 to consider recommendations from the Watauga County Planning Board pertaining to the abolishment of the Town of Boone’s ETJ authority.

See previous story below.

Note that the Planning Board meets Monday night (Nov. 17) and could alter initial recommendations made two weeks ago.

Planning Board Makes Preliminary Recommendation for 90-Day Moratorium on High Impact Land Uses in ETJ

By Jesse Wood

Nov. 4, 2014. The Watauga County Planning Board met on Monday night to continue discussions revolving around the county taking over the Town of Boone’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) come Jan. 1, 2015.

In the summer, the N.C. General Assembly passed N.C. Sen. Dan Soucek’s bill that abolishes the Town of Boone’s ETJ authority.

After listening to public comment from nearly 30 residents about the ETJ in August, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners directed the Planning Board to make recommendations on how to regulate the ETJ area – if at all. Watauga County doesn’t have countywide zoning; it only zones the Valle Crucis and Foscoe-Grandfather communities.

On Monday, the Planning Board made a recommendation to the commissioners to adopt a 90-day moratorium on high-impact land uses in “virtually all” of the ETJ, according to Watauga County Planning Director Joe Furman, who added that this is a preliminary recommendation because the Planning Board will meet one more time with the option to tweak its recommendation before the next board meeting of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 18.

Furman noted that because of N.C. General Statutes, counties can only zone portions of a county if those areas are greater than 640 acres and have at least 10 separate tracts of land with 10 different owners. Furman added that not all of the ETJ land falls within that criteria because the “ETJ doesn’t always touch.”

Furman said he has been in discussions with experts at the UNC School of Government and its possible that those outlying properties will be included with the 90-day moratorium on uses currently in the county’s Ordinance to Regulate High Impact Land Use – asphalt plants, electricity generating facilities, propane or gasoline bulk storage facilities, chip mills, explosive manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, chemical storage facilities, fuel oil bulk storage facilities, electric substations, cement mixing facilities and commercial/industrial development greater than a 50,000-square-foot footprint.

A group advocating for more stringent regulation in line with what the Town of Boone imposed in the ETJ called for a two-year moratorium earlier this year.

While the Ordinance to Regulate High Impact Land Use states that asphalt plants, chemical and explosive manufacturing facilities, electricity generating facilities and chemical storage facilities can’t be within 1,500 feet of a school, daycare facility or nursing home facility, homeowners are concerned that this measure doesn’t include residential dwellings or neighborhoods.

If the 90-day moratorium recommendation were to the make it before the commissioners and approved, the moratorium would begin on Jan. 1, 2015, which is when the Town of Boone loses its authority over the ETJ. The Town of Boone recently sued the state of North Carolina over this issue.

Furman said the Planning Board also made a recommendation to amend the watershed map as it pertains to boundaries. This change, he said, won’t affect current watershed regulation. Furman added that the Planning Board also discussed noise ordinances and spacing requirements of high impact land uses.

The Planning Board meets again on Monday, Nov. 17, and will finalize any recommendations to appear before the commissioners on the following day.

For more information about the ETJ, click here.