Aug. 6, 2014. Today in a press release, the newly formed Watauga Citizens for Local Control announced that they have been accepted as a chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. The Watauga group is focusing on the upcoming public hearing on Boone’s extra territorial jurisdiction, or ETJ.
At the Aug. 5 meeting, members expressed concerns that polluting industries have targeted their now-protected communities for dangerous and undesirable facilities.
Watauga Citizens for Local Control’s spokesman Lee Stroupe said, “We want to keep the protections we now have under ETJ. We want to keep polluting industry out of our neighborhoods. That’s all.”
Lou Zeller, who now directs the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, welcomed the new group. He said, “The legislature’s removal of Boone’s ETJ is like the camel’s nose under the tent. Why was Boone singled out?”
In June, N.C. Senate Bill 865 stripped Boone of its power to establish ETJs effective January 2015. However, the bill left ETJs in place for 200 other North Carolina municipalities.
“This law is a bad precedent for this and other communities who merely want to protect their homes and families,” Zeller concluded.
At a meeting on July 30 in Boone, local residents organized Watauga Citizens for Local Control. The new group is organizing in all ETJ areas around Boone.
The public hearing on ETJ will be held on Aug. 19 at 6 p.m. during the Watauga County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League was founded in 1984 to protect the High Country from a nuclear waste dump and today has chapters and projects in six states.