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Originally published: 2014-06-26 14:43:21
Last modified: 2014-06-26 14:44:05

ETJ protections, land-use planning critical

The recent decision by the General Assembly to undo Boone's ability to exercise authority within its extraterritorial jurisdiction will almost certainly lead to negative consequences for residents living in the ETJ and those living inside the town's corporate limits.

When Mayor Andy Ball says residents "have a lot to lose," he is exactly right.

Many, many residents recognized that fact, speaking up to tell elected officials that Boone's land-use planning has helped to protect them and their property rights against incompatible uses. Those incompatible uses can include asphalt plants and quarry operations that, when locating directly next to a subdivision, can cause the value of homes - the most important investment that most families will ever make - to plummet.

Land-use planning is also critical to maintaining the character of Boone, which is so vital in attracting the tourism upon which its economy relies. Ball and members of the Boone Town Council fought the good fight. They offered concrete examples of the protections afforded by Boone's ETJ. A majority of legislators failed to heed their warnings, even as the one state lawmaker most affected by the decision, House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes of Caldwell County, who owns a second home in the Boone ETJ, spoke out against the decision.

"(The town) just tries to have orderly development so that residential neighborhoods are protected," Starnes told fellow lawmakers.  

Starnes understands the issues and should be applauded for taking a stand, something not easy when his colleagues are moving in the opposite direction. The North Carolina League of Municipalities hopes his sensible views of the importance of ETJ land-use planning and protections will begin to become widely shared within the legislature, despite this unfortunate decision.

Paul Meyer, executive director North Carolina League of Municipalities