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ETJ decision looms

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, is expected to authorize city staff to pursue reducing the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction in three areas.

The three areas proposed to be removed from the city’s ETJ include an area south of the Pamlico River that includes Whichard’s Beach Road, an area on U.S. Highway 17 north of the city near the Hunter’s Pointe Sporting Clays complex and an area that’s mostly farmland along Cherry Road and Corsica Road between Market Street Extension and Slatestone Road.

The extraterritorial jurisdiction is a zoning overlay that allows a municipality to impose its zoning regulations outside its corporate limits to help it prepare for future growth. It’s also the legal ability of a government to exercise its authority beyond its normal boundaries. An ETJ takes in areas the city believes is somewhat urban in nature and likely would be targeted for future annexation.

John Rodman, the city’s director of planning and development, has told the council that reducing the city’s ETJ could save the city money because it would not have to enforce the city’s zoning and land-use regulations in the areas removed from the city’s ETJ.

“Let me give you some figures. What we are trying to do is balance some areas that we may not think have a higher potential for development,” Rodman told the council last month. “Can we better use those man-hours that our inspectors are doing or our planning staff is doing? Can we use those man-hours to concentrate more on what we think are high-development areas? So, we’re looking at it that way.”

At the council’s April 23 meeting, Councilman Doug Mercer voiced concerns with removing protections the ETJ provides property owners in the ETJ. If those property owners are removed from the ETJ, they would not have those protections because Beaufort County does not have zoning regulations and other land-use protections, he noted.

At the April 23 meeting, there was some question about whether if property owners in the ETJ would pay more for flood insurance if they were removed from the ETJ. The city participates in the community rating system, which is part of the National Flood Insurance Program, but Beaufort County does not.

Under CRS, the city is rated as a seven, with the county rated a 10 because it does not participate.

Those county residents who do not live in a municipality are paying full rates for flood insurance, Rodman said. Washington residents and those who live in the city’s ETJ are entitled to a 15-percent reduction in their flood-insurance premiums, Rodman said. Residents removed from the city’s ETJ could face paying higher premiums, he said.

“I have not verified that,” Rodman said then.

The Washington City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St. The council’s entire agenda may be obtained by visiting the city’s website at www.washington-nc.com, following the link for “Government,” then to the “City Council” heading on the menu to the right, then clicking on “Meeting Agendas” on the menu to the right, and choosing the date for the appropriate agenda.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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