City considering relinquishing areas under its zoning laws

Published 12:06 am Monday, November 14, 2016

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting today, is scheduled to receive information about reducing the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction.

City officials have discussed relinquishing some of its extra-territorial jurisdiction for more than a year. Currently, that jurisdiction extends a mile and a half.

The extra-territorial jurisdiction, known as an ETJ, is a zoning overlay that allows the city to zone areas outside its city limits in order to plan for future growth. In North Carolina, the state gives municipalities far-reaching powers to control planning and growth for up to three miles beyond their municipal limits, or one mile for smaller towns. Areas included in an ETJ “must be based on existing or projected urban development and areas of critical concern for the city, as evidenced by officially-adopted plans for its development,” according to state law.

City staff, according to a memorandum from John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, to the mayor and council members, will study four areas for possible removal from the ETJ. Those areas are the Whichard’s Beach and Sand Hole Road area, U.S. Highway 17 (north of the city) and Market Street Extension area, the Cherry Road to Corsica Road to CBH Lodge Road area and the Asbury Church Road and Mimosa Shores Road area.

“The adjustment will more accurately reflect the potential future growth patterns and utility service areas of the City of Washington,” according to Rodman.

In the memorandum, Rodman outlines a procedure to implement, if the council decides to pursue reducing the ETJ. That procedure includes the following four items:

  • present an ETJ-reduction report to the council;
  • the Planning Board conducts a hearing on the matter;
  • the council conducts a hearing, followed by possible adoption of a resolution to reduce the ETJ;
  • establish an effective date for the city to implement reduction of the ETJ.

Although there may be several reasons for the city to reduce its ETJ, remarks made by City Manager Bobby Roberson earlier this year could provide insight into one reason the city is looking at the issue.

“Because annexation laws have actually changed, I don’t anticipate us doing what is known as forced standard procedures regarding annexation. I’d like the Planning Board to look at reducing the ETJ. Specifically, I’m concerned about is we spend a tremendous amount of time over at Whichard’s Beach,” Roberson, a former council member, said during the council’s Feb. 22 meeting. “We’ve been over there for years and years. Whenever we have a flood, we have to go in and make inspections. Unfortunately, for us, we have to enforce the regulations for people who got a building permit, who said they just wanted to enclose it, then all of a sudden they have a room. They they’ll file for flood insurance and we have to go over there and tell them they’re in violation of the zoning ordinance. Otherwise, we get negative effects on our flood insurance (program).”

The city is working on improving its flood-insurance rating so its property owners could possible benefit from lower flood-insurance premiums.

The council meets at 5:30 p.m. today in the Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St. To view the council’s agenda for a specific meeting, visit the city’s web­site at, click “City Agendas.” Locate the appropriate agenda (by date)  under the “Washington City Council” heading, then click on that specific agenda listing.





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.

email author More by Mike