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Originally published: 2012-07-03 16:01:08
Last modified: 2012-07-03 16:16:07

ETJ, water intake bills unsuccessful

by Anna Oakes

Although they were effectual in stirring up much debate over the past month, two local pieces of legislation aimed at the town of Boone's water infrastructure and regulatory authority ultimately were not successful.

The General Assembly adjourned the short session of the 2011-2012 biennium at 3:05 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, leaving Senate Bill 949 and House Bill 1227 to die in committee.

Senate Bill 949 would have specifically stripped the town of Boone of its extraterritorial jurisdiction powers effective June 30, 2013. The ETJ is an area one mile outside town limits that is subject to the town's zoning regulations. While ETJ has been authorized by the state since 1959, Boone has exercised ETJ authority since 1983.

State Sen. Dan Soucek of Boone, a Republican, introduced Senate Bill 949 on May 30, and the legislation received Senate approval June 21. In the House of Representatives, the Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations on June 25 passed a favorable report on the bill by a 10-9 vote.

But Senate Bill 949 was withdrawn from the House floor on June 26 and re-referred back to the House Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations, where it remained when the legislative session ended.

In House committee, representatives argued a bill affecting Boone's ETJ should be delayed until the broader issue of ETJ authority and state municipalities could be studied further. But Senate Bill 231, which authorized a House select committee to study ETJ authority, municipal incorporations and municipal services, was not ratified before the session adjourned.

House Bill 1227 had a briefer shelf life. Filed on June 14 by Republican state Rep. Jonathan Jordan of Jefferson, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House on June 19, and it remained in committee until the session's end.

The bill would have halted the town of Boone's seven-year-long water intake project by disapproving the state regulatory measure needed for the facility to receive permits. The town of Boone plans to build a new 4 million gallon-per-day raw water intake facility on the South Fork of the New River between Todd and Brownwood in Watauga County.

Also failing to be ratified was Senate Bill 382, which would have required municipalities that extend water and sewer services to any properties within urban growth areas to extend water and sewer service to any other properties requesting it.

The N.C. League of Municipalities, a lobbying organization, said urban growth area is not defined in the law and could easily become entangled with ETJ, spheres of influence and other designated areas immediately surrounding municipal boundaries.

The 2013-2014 biennium of the General Assembly is scheduled to convene on January 30, 2013.