By Jesse Wood
Oct. 1, 2013. In response to the Town of Boone’s refusal to accept Watauga County’s extraterritorial (ETJ) appointments to the town’s Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment based on “procedural deficiencies,” the Watauga County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to call a public hearing for its appointments at its next meeting.
The town recently said that it was declining the July 16 appointments because a public hearing was not held in accordance to its Unified Development Ordinance, while County Attorney Four Eggers states that the town doesn’t have the “statutory authority” to require a public hearing.
After Commissioner Billy Kennedy noted the “difference in legal opinion” at Tuesday’s meeting and said he was “not placing blame” on either the county or the town, he suggested holding a public hearing to see if that would satisfy the town and lead to the appointments of Frank Bolick and Dale Greene. The commissioners also agreed to hold a public hearing for the appointment of Jon Tate, who was “inadvertently sworn in” before a public hearing by the town, according to Town Manager Greg Young.
While Commissioner Perry Yates said it is a shame to have to hold a public hearing for upstanding citizens, as Yates described Bolick and Greene, the commissioner was willing to “extend an olive branch” to the town and hold a public hearing. Yates also requested that a special meeting between the town and county be scheduled “to get this ironed out” and receive clarity on the situation.
Chair Nathan Miller, who was the lone commissioner to vote against scheduling a public hearing, said he would like to file a lawsuit and a seek an injunction to prevent the Board of Adjustment and Planning Commission from meeting until the ETJ appointees are seated on their respective boards.
Miller also noted that the “cheaper, easier” route would be to hold a public hearing first to see how things pan out but said this issue would likely come up again in the future, similar to 2011, when the Town of Boone and Watauga County officials held a special meeting to resolve concerns around ETJ appointments.
The board voted to call a public hearing for Oct. 15 and directed County Manager Deron Geouque to draft a letter to Young requesting a special meeting between the commissioners and the town council in the next 30 days.
Read prior story for more details about this situation here: