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Town Council and Water Commission React Negatively to Soucek-Proposed Bill to End Boone’s ETJ Rights

By Rebecca Gitlen

State Sen. Daniel Soucek

June 4, 2012. The Town of Boone’s Water Committee made two motions at their Monday meeting. The first, to recommend to the Town Council that should a bill proposed by State Sen. Daniel Soucek (R-Boone) to strip Boone of extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) powers pass, the council should immediately suspend all new water connections or extensions outside town limits.

The town is obligated to have water for those living in Boone town limits. Of the approximately 3,500 people living in the ETJ areas, only 300 get water from Boone, said Bill Bailey, director of Boone’s Planning and Inspections Department. New developments in these areas would not be eligible.

“We’ve had such limited water, we need to prioritize,” said Councilman Andy Ball.

The other motion from the Water Committee was to unanimously oppose the bill because of the negative effects it would have on the town.

As defined by Article 19 of Statutes §160A, an ETJ is the area in a county outside of incorporated town limits that is subject to the town’s land use regulations.

Their purpose is to plan logical, urban growth, Bailey said.

If Soucek’s bill passes, Boone’s ETJ areas would not be under any zoning restrictions, such as commercial, industrial or noise restrictions, said Ball.

“Once every eight to 10 days, I get a phone call from people about intense industrial development or a concrete plant going up next to their house,” Bailey said. “For the most part, residents want the zoning, so this is an interesting development.”

Part of the issue is steep slopes for visual and structural reasons. After the Villages at Meadowview complex was built above Walmart in 2006, the Boone Town Council regulated slope development for slope failure and mountainous beauty reasons.

It’s expensive to build on steep slopes correctly and the complex above Walmart already had retaining wall failure that the town spent about $50,000 to fix, Bailey said.

Boone’s regulations would be ineffective if Senate Bill 949 passes.

Mayor Loretta Clawson was “very shocked,” “disappointed and extremely concerned” by the bill and the way it targets Boone.

In a statement released Friday, Clawson said, “A form of extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction has existed in North Carolina since 1949, and has allowed municipalities to protect the health, safety and welfare of property owners within the immediate area just outside corporate limits.”

Bailey claimed that the bill was “short-sighted legislation,” driven by a few individuals and their agendas.

Soucek has not yet returned calls.