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Boone ETJ Bill Withdrawn From Full Vote in Senate; Referenced to Committee on Finance for Further Review

By Paul T. Choate 

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

June 12, 2012. RALEIGH — On Tuesday, June 11, the NC Senate Bill 949 Town of Boone/ETJ was withdrawn from going to a full vote in the North Carolina Senate and referenced to the Senate Committee on Finance, according to the North Carolina General Assembly website.

This comes after the State and Local Government Senate Standing Committee on Thursday, June 7, approved state Sen. Daniel Soucek’s (R-Boone) bill to go to a full vote in the Senate. 

Several Town of Boone officials, including Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson, were not favorable of the bill, which would have stripped Boone of extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) powers.

On Friday, June 8, Clawson said a lot of area residents who had been in contact, some of whom lived in ETJ areas, were happy with the regulations, adding, “The people who are contacting me and talking to me, some of them are almost in tears because they have really, really loved the fact that they were protected by town zoning.”

Clawson described the bill being referenced back to committee as “interesting” on Tuesday, June 11, saying, “There has been a great outpouring of resistance from the people in the ETJ.”

Recently, a website went online encouraging Watauga County residents to call or email state Senators and ask them them to vote no on Sen. Soucek’s proposed bill. Messages encouraging county residents to contact state Senators and ask them to vote no also spread across the social networking website Facebook.

In an email sent Tuesday, June 12, Sen. Soucek said he was not able to be in Raleigh on Monday because he was attending Peyton Townsend‘s funeral. He said the Townsends are family friends.

“When I learned I couldn’t be in Raleigh on Monday night, I contacted the Rules Chairman and Floor Leader, Senator Tom Apodaca and asked him to displace the bill so that it could be heard at a time when it would be better suited both for me and for the rest of the General Assembly as we work toward a budget resolution as well,” said Soucek in the email. “I returned to Raleigh this morning and am hopeful that the bill will be placed back on the calendar as soon as the hectic budget schedule allows.”

Sen. Soucek maintained on Friday, June 8, that his bill was to help people who lived in ETJ area’s of Watauga County.

“My goal was not to take away the ETJ powers of Boone,” said Soucek. “It was to give a voice to the people in the ETJ who had felt ignored and bullied for years. They basically have regulation without representation.”

The bill will now be under review by the Senate Committee on Finance, but could go back to a full vote in the Senate.

To view the bill listing on the North Carolina General Assembly website and track its progress, click here.

Check back with High Country Press for more updates on this developing story.