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Town of Boone Sues the State for ETJ Legislation, Lawsuit Filed in Watauga Courthouse on Friday Afternoon

By Jesse Wood

Oct. 10, 2014. Boone Mayor Andy Ball announced on Friday afternoon that the town has filed a lawsuit against the State of North Carolina at the Watauga County Courthouse challenging the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Dan Soucek, that passed through the N.C. General Assembly this summer and abolishes the Boone extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) at the end of the year.

Ball also released a statement on behalf of the Town of Boone:

“Over 200 municipalities in North Carolina exercise the authority known as [ETJ], pursuant to NCGS Chapter 160A-360.

Since 1917, the North Carolina Constitution has prohibited any local law relating to health, sanitation and the abatement of nuisances, relating to non-navigable streams, or regulating labor, trade, mining, or manufacturing. This law does not apply statewide, and it relates to the topics referenced in the Constitution. As a result, as Article II, Section 24 of the North Carolina Constitution states – this law is ‘void.’

We believe we have an obligation to the citizens of Boone, and to those who live in the ETJ, to challenge this law so that they can receive the same benefits and protections that citizens of other North Carolina towns and cities receive.”

Soucek responded to the announcement of the lawsuit a few hours after it was filed on Friday afternoon with this statement:

“I am disappointed that the Town of Boone is using tax payer dollars to sue the state for the authority to infringe on the property rights of citizens outside their city limits.  All authority exercised by towns and municipalities are granted to them by the legislature.  When those authorities are misused, abused or not it the best interest of the citizens, the legislature may alter or remove that authority.  This has been done with ETJ around the state several times in the past few years.  When the Town of Boone was egregiously violating the property rights of my constituents, I felt duty bound to defend those citizens.”