Council leaves ETJ issue on the table

Published 8:17 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2012

For now, Washington will leave its extraterritorial jurisdiction as it is.

The City Council unanimously voted to keep the status quo in regard to the ETJ. It had the option of sending the issue to the Planning Board for it to consider and develop a recommendation regarding the matter, but the council chose not to go with that option.

The city had considered possibly reducing the size of its ETJ. The three areas identified for possible removal from the ETJ included 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 are 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.

“I think if it’s not really a major issue at this time,” said Councilman Edward Moultrie Jr. during the council’s meeting Monday. “With all due respect, Councilman (Bobby) Roberson, if it’s not an immediate issue, I think that we should put in on hold.”

“I have to agree with Councilman Moultrie,” said Councilman Doug Mercer. “The information that has been provided is extremely helpful. We’ve spent 155 hours in seven years inspecting and so forth over there (Whichard’s Beach Road area).

The monies you’ve collected are more than enough monies to pay for the services, and it certainly appears it’s not a major problem at this point in time. I would suggest we allow things to stay the way they are. In the future, if it gets to be a burden on the Planning Department, then they obviously have the opportunity to come back and discuss this with us again.”

“If you guys don’t want to support the ETJ reduction, it’s fine for me,” Roberson said. “I’m telling you, we’re providing service for free for those residents in the county. If that’s what you want to do, that’s fine. We can move right along and keep it just like it is.”

But Roberson wasn’t finished.

“Beaufort County needs to step up and get land-use regulation or flood ordinances, like every other county’s done in the state of North Carolina,” Roberson said. “If they don’t want to do that, I don’t think the city should step over and continue to enforce the ETJ because the annexation laws are going to change. I’m willing to go with you guys. I don’t have a problem with it.”

“We need to partner with the county, particularly on our buffer areas,” Mayor Archie Jennings said. “But that conversation has been deferred for years now. Whereas I think it might be appropriate — sounds to me like — for the council to stand down on this for now, it’s not appropriate to stand down for another 40 years. So, we need to take this issue up from a planning perspective.”

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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